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Couple hopes $5 million Mayo Clinic donation leads to better care for women

Penny and Bill George, along with their George Family Foundation, recently gave $5 million to Mayo Clinic to launch the virtual Center for Women’s Health.
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Two longtime supporters of Mayo Clinic have donated $5 million to create a virtual center to comprehensively address women’s health.

Bill and Penny George, along with their George Family Foundation, recently gave the $5 million, their largest single gift to Mayo Clinic, to launch the virtual Center for Women’s Health, led by Dr. Stephanie Faubion.

"This will be the first comprehensive women’s health program in the United States. There are cancer centers, cardiovascular centers, OBGYN centers, but none fully committed to women’s comprehensive health," said Bill George, a Mayo Clinic trustee.

"I have served on the Mayo board for the last seven years," he said. "One of the things I’ve observed all across the country, hospitals are not really giving sufficient … broad-based care for all of women’s health care. We think it has been an area of neglect."

The multidisciplinary center works with other departments at Mayo Clinic "to incorporate integrative health and lifestyle services into their models of care," according to Mayo Clinic press release. "In addition, the center will promote further research and education on how sex and gender affect health."


The Georges attributed much of this idea for better addressing women’s health across all three of Mayo Clinic’s "shields" — clinical care, research and education — to Dr. Faubion’s vision of personalizing the health care experience of women.

"Over the last 100 years, women have not been well served by medicine, not well served clinically and not well served with research. Mayo is very committed to looking at women uniquely," Penny George said Wednesday. "When Mayo gets behind something, they deliver on it."

The virtual center is already seeing patients as part of a pilot program with the goal of introducing it to the Rochester campus later this year.

"The Center for Women’s Health will lead by example to set a new national standard for women’s health care, providing personalized care that considers women as partners in their health care. The center’s goal is to become a destination for women’s health care where patients are not only treated for a specific condition, but also empowered with the tools and knowledge they need to improve their overall health and wellness: mind, body and spirit," Faubion, the center’s director, said in the announcement.

The Georges said they hope this concept will catch on. They would like to see it spread to all of Mayo Clinic’s clinical sites as well in the research labs and classrooms.

"We hope that our gift is a drop in a bucket. There are so many opportunities to make a difference here. We believe that this an idea that’s time has come. We believe Mayo is primed to deliver on it," Penny George said.

The center builds on the work of the past two decades done by Penny George and the George Family Foundation to advance the concept of integrative health through the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Allina Health and underwriting programs through the Catalyst Initiative. The George Family Foundation has also awarded more than $4 million in grants for initiatives supporting women and girls.

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