A center tasked with deepening the collaboration between the private sector and Atlanta’s growing global health community launched this week, its timeline accelerated and relevancy accentuated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Global Health Crisis Coordination Center, or GHC3, is backed by $1 million in seed funding from Microsoft and the CDC Foundation, and has built a leadership team that will draw further support down the road.
The center aims to ensure the sharing of resources and information among the disparate nonprofits, researchers, health providers, economic development agencies and companies within the global health ecosystem in Atlanta and beyond. (It aspires to have a national reach.)
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a sense of urgency to get it off the ground, as inquiries began flooding in from companies wanting to donate personal protective equipment or use their technology or services to benefit the response.
“At this time, we need a place for our businesses and nonprofits to share ideas, information, tools and resources as we face the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, said in a news release. Dr. Monroe co-chairs GHC3’s COVID-19 committee along with Dr. Russell Medford, Chairman and CEO of Covanos, and Clark Dean, executive managing partner at Transwestern.
MedShare CEO Charles Redding, whose organization worked with UPS to ship early donations of protective gear to China when the coronavirus outbreak began, agreed that now is the time to tap into the private sector’s resources and networks to “mobilize resources.”
Indeed, that has already been taking place across the metro area, with the Georgia Department of Economic Development spinning up a form where companies could submit available supplies or donate production capacity. Manufacturers and research centers, sometimes in partnership, began retooling their plants to make hand sanitizer, face shields, masks, gowns and other gear for which demand has skyrocketed globally.
But some foreign companies hoping to supply products and services within Georgia have found it hard to navigate the procurement or donation process.
Even local companies making their first foray into medical goods have found it tough to find new buyers in fields where they don’t understand the sales channels; some have resorted to donating the items to friends or existing customers.
Even in its short life, GHC3 has begun to remedy this disconnect, pairing a $40,000 donation from Atlanta-based cybersecurity firm Pindrop with a mask supplier who could get the much-needed supplies to medical workers on the front lines. Governors of four states have used the network to find 1,000 ventilators so far. Dell has donated 1,000 Chromebook laptops to help homebound patients connect with doctors and upload their temperatures.
This type of assistance was the very reason the launch was moved up, says Mr. Berta, the executive director.
“While the concept of the crisis center began about 18 months ago, we need to quickly mobilize our resources to help respond to COVID-19. The incoming offers to help by the private sector created the need for the CDC Foundation to request the launch of the center to help coordinate these offers and help direct them toward those in need,” he told Global Atlanta in an email. He requested that companies contact GHC3 to declare their capabilities or coordinate the donation of much-needed PPE.
“We have a “Get Involved” page on our website – globalhealthc3.org – where you can give money, expertise, company matches or even suggest ideas,” he said.
Capital of Global Health?
Beyond meeting an immediate needs around COVID-19, the center is fulfilling a vision for better capitalizing on Atlanta’s global health ecosystem, as envisioned by the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Global Health ATL initiative launched in 2018.
One of its three initial goals was to set up a crisis response center weaving together expertise from the city’s 15 Fortune 500 companies, the CDC, research universities, and non-profits like CARE, the Carter Center and the Task Force for Global Health.
Later, the initiative hopes to leverage this force to draw international investment and talent to make “Atlanta the go-to place for global health,” Dr. Monroe said in a video about the initial brainstorming session for Global Health ATL. Chief Economic Development Officer David Hartnett laid out the vision explicitly:
“Our goal is to celebrate and build our collective resources so we can take that out to the international market and shine a light back on Atlanta as the epicenter for global health.”
To date, Global Health ATL estimates that 65 Atlanta-based organizations have worked on 1,388 programs in 154 countries.
In a way, the economic vision is catching up with what nonprofit and university leaders have been touting for years.
CARE CEO Michelle Nunn said in June 2019 that during a visit to Seattle, she was welcomed to the “capital of global public health.” She thought that moniker should actually be applied to Atlanta.
“I thought we are not necessarily recognizing some of the inherent assets that make Atlanta unique,” she said during a conversation at a World Trade Day forum. ”Global public health is really one dimension of a real extraordinary set of institutions and assets that make Atlanta a truly global city.”
The GHC3 will be under the umbrella of the Center for Global Health Innovation, which was launched in January with five divisions including existing organizations Georgia Bio and the Georgia Global Health Alliance, which has been tasked with pushing Global Health ATL ahead.
GHC3’s partners already include Delta, Dell, Emory, IBM, Georgia-Pacific’s Point A innovation center, the Task Force for Global Health, the chamber, UPS Healthcare, Transwestern, Morehouse School of Medicine and more.
Learn more about the crisis coordination center’s leadership team here.
Companies with solutions or ideas for partnership should get in touch here.