Inside Medtronic Philanthropy’s HeartRescue Project

If you know anything about Medtronic Philanthropy, chances are, you know it focuses almost exclusively on two areas: non-communicable diseases and education. Its non-communicable disease grantmaking reaches far and wide, and it’s smart, too. It zeroes in on diabetes and heart disease, funding more public health-focused initiatives (as opposed to research), and the best part is that it doesn’t discriminate in terms of project size, objective, or even region. As far as Medtronic Philanthropy is concerned, if you’re working on heart disease or diabetes—improving access to care, awareness, diagnosis or treatment—you have a shot at their funding.

All this goes to show you how Medtronic’s HeartRescue Project fits perfectly into the organization’s stated objective. It’s pretty specific—dedicated to raising awareness and improving outcomes for sufferers of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul (where Medtronic’s corporate HQ is located). But it’s big by Medtronic standards, netting $2.8 million of the foundation’s giving in 2013. And it seems to be built for possible future geographic expansion. HeartRescue has pulled in resuscitation experts from around the country and from the AMR Medicine/EMSC Foundation, which is the largest EMS organization in the United States, covering 2,000 communities in 39 states. The goal is treating people suffering from sudden cardiac arrest as quickly and effectively as possible.

As far as the rest of Medtronic Philanthropy’s health-based grantmaking goes, this is one of its more research-centric objectives. Historically, the organization, which began as the Medtronic Foundation in 1978, has emphasized the need to overcome barriers to care—cultural, geographic, or financial—with a side goal of improving preventative medicine. Of course, when someone’s in sudden cardiac arrest, there’s no sitting down with them to discuss barriers to care. In cases like these, the only real barrier is the lack of trained EMTs standing by, and, perhaps, the lack of research into groundbreaking resuscitation techniques.

So HeartRescue takes aim at the gap where the research, or lack thereof, can become its own barrier to care. It’s an interesting objective, to be sure—a little outside Medtronic Philanthropy’s typical approach, but right in step with their organizational objectives.