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Gift from Hardy Family Establishes Fund for African American Health

Ken and Rose Hardy

Access to quality health care has been critical to Ken Hardy and his wife, Rose. Hardy, Chairman of Bonnie Speed Logistics and former UH Board of Directors member, described the decision to establish the Rose and Kenneth Hardy Fund for African American Health as a simple one. His family’s philanthropy supports projects that boost the black community or advance health care. “In this case, we get both,” Ken said of the Hardy Fund’s inspirational gift of $250,000.

“Not Asking Anything Special”

Community health data confirm what Hardy has seen firsthand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans of all ages live with diseases considered common among the elderly. They are the least likely to survive the top eight cancers and suffer the highest infant mortality rate, with pregnancy-related mortality rates three times those of white women.

“I'm not asking anything special,” Hardy said. “I’m simply asking our health care system and our community to live up to their stated commitment of caring for us.”

The Hardy Fund will be utilized by Greg Hall, MD, the Edgar B. Jackson, Jr., MD Chair for Diversity & Clinical Excellence. Dr. Hall has advocated for Black Americans in health care for more than 30 years. Under his leadership and with dollars from the Hardy Fund, UH providers will begin to access training in evidence-based practices for minority health, cultural education and bias mitigation. Dollars will also advance health literacy among UH patients and sponsor community events. In addition, UH researchers will conduct demographically representative studies in hopes of improving clinical applications for Black patients.

“African Americans have the worst health outcomes in northeast Ohio,” said Dr. Hall. “Taking Ken’s lead, our community has a unique opportunity to step up and make a positive change in health disparities and to improve access to culturally appropriate care.”

Dr. Hall will have support from the Office of Community Impact, Equity, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, led by Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM, Chief Diversity, Equity & Belonging Officer. Cunanan acknowledged that the challenges for Black Americans “extend way beyond health care.” “There are things that you just don't think about in this country unless you are black,” Hardy added. “It weighs on you.”

The road ahead is a long one. Hardy hopes his contribution serves as a catalyst for the considerable work that remains.

“This is neither the first nor the last gift from the Hardy family to University Hospitals,” Ken said.

By joining Ken and Rose’s effort to optimize health outcomes for the Black community, you can help UH keep our promise to provide quality, equitable care.

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