A generous donation from Michael Jordan comes to life on Charlotte’s west side

In 2017, Michael Jordan donated $7 million to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation to help build two health care clinics to serve Charlotte’s most at-risk and in-need communities. Last month, the first of these clinics opened to the public on Charlotte’s west side.

At the opening of the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic, the six-time NBA champion and Hornets owner was visibly moved as he took in the enormity of what his donation has made possible.

“As you can see, it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years,” he said. “I’ve gone off and made my life in Illinois and other places. But I know where it all begins.

Access to health care is one of the most pressing needs our community is facing. According to Census Bureau data, more than 100,000 Charlotteans don’t have health insurance. In fact, a Community Health Needs Assessment showed striking health equity gaps in six ZIP codes, including disparities in accessing healthy foods, safe housing and reliable transportation, which all impact one’s ability to be, and stay, healthy.

The Novant Health Michael Jordan Medical Family Clinic on Freedom Drive is designed to eliminate these health equity gaps. The clinic will deliver primary and preventive care to those with little to no access, in addition to behavioral health and social support services. The 6,800-square-foot facility is equipped with 12 exam rooms, an X-ray room and flexible space, which will be designed to meet the future needs of the community it serves. A full-time social worker is also on staff to connect patients with vital resources — a model that has worked well at the Movement Family Wellness Center, powered by Novant Health, in the same ZIP code. During the first six months that clinic was open, 98 percent of patients were referred for social work services.

This unique, integrated care model — which has proven to reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations and total cost of care when compared to traditional models — will help Novant Health make a bigger impact among Charlotte’s most in-need communities.

“One of the benefits of living in Charlotte is access to world-class health care. But for too long, a significant part of our population has been excluded from that access. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Jordan, that is changing,” said Jennifer Clifford, chief development officer, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation. “It’s a big moment for our community, and knowing that Mr. Jordan is so deeply committed to serving this population makes it even more meaningful.”

Mr. Jordan’s donation to the two new clinics is one of his largest philanthropic commitments to date. But it’s not the beginning of his relationship with Novant Health. In 2012, Mr. Jordan officially kicked off his partnership and has since supported a range of Novant Health initiatives, including a nearly $750,000 donation to fund the Novant Health Community Care Cruiser. To date, the mobile health cruiser has delivered 20,000 immunizations and offered care to 10,000 children in the greater Charlotte market.

Mr. Jordan’s partnership with Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Foundation has allowed him to take that work even further, first with the newly opened clinic and continuing in 2020, when the second clinic is scheduled to open in North End.

“I believe that your ZIP code or neighborhood should not determine the quality of your health care — or whether or not you can even get care at all,” Mr. Jordan has said.

Thanks to his generous donation, it doesn’t have to.

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