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Mayo receives $67M from Wis. couple

Published 10:56am Thursday, October 24, 2013

By Jackie Crosby

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

The Mayo Clinic’s quest to build a center that uses medical data and scientific rigor to improve health care has gotten a game-changing boost from a $67.3 million gift from a Wisconsin businessman and his wife.

The latest donation from Robert and Patricia Kern, announced Wednesday, is earmarked for the Mayo Clinic’s Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, which was launched two years ago with their $20 million gift and now will bear their name.

The Kerns are retired founders of Generac Power Systems of Waukesha, Wis., which they started in a garage and built into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of generators.

The additional funding will ensure the long-term future of the center, where scientists, analysts and statisticians work with medical staff to try to “connect the dots” in a fragmented health care system, said the center’s medical director, Dr. Veronique Roger.

“It requires an engineering approach that looks at how patients flow through the system, how they go from appointment to appointment, and how you establish continuity in the various components of their care,” Roger said. “Mr. Kern is an engineer. He understood the construct immediately when we first started talking to him.”

Along with $13 million in earlier donations to fund neuroscience research and education, the couple has become one of the Rochester-based hospital system’s largest benefactors, with donations now totaling $100 million.

The Kerns’ most recent gift, received in August, is the second-largest received by the Mayo Clinic, after a $100 million gift two years ago by Iowa businessman and philanthropist Richard Jacobson. That gift, given in a lump sum, went to jump-start Mayo’s cancer-fighting proton beam therapy program in Rochester and Phoenix.

The two gifts represent two of the largest donations to Minnesota nonprofits in more than a decade, according to the Journal of Philanthropy.


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