Covenant Health Pays It Forward

Posted on September 13, 2019

Foundations Provide Support for Patients, Technology and Education

     Foundations are the fundraising arm for many organizations, including hospitals. Patrick Birmingham, Covenant Health’s Vice President of Philanthropy and Government Relations, says the Office of Philanthropy facilitates the funding of patient programs, equipment, and clinical training not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance plans.

Headshot of Patrick Birmingham on blue background

Patient Support – More Than Medicine

     Many foundation events raise funds for treatment-related patient expenses. “Someone with a cancer diagnosis may not be able to afford gasoline to travel to Knoxville for frequent treatments,” says Birmingham. In those instances, the Office of Philanthropy uses proceeds from events like the Jingle Run for Hope in Morristown or the Thompson Race Against Cancer in Knoxville to provide gas cards to patients. Foundation-sponsored events also support Covenant Health’s hospitality houses, which provide free housing for families of patients who travel for treatment and can’t afford a hotel stay.

Golf for a Good Cause

     The Office of Philanthropy also raises money to bring new technology and equipment to our region. The Patricia Neal Golf Classic has raised more than $6 million over the last 35 years to help restore and rebuild the lives of patients who have experienced strokes, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Currently the foundation is raising funds to bring an Exoskeleton, a wearable medical device that assists with limb movement and mobility, to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.
     Birmingham says, “Nearly 60 percent of Pat Neal patients have experienced a stroke-related injury, so the majority of patients there could benefit from this technology. That is something the foundation could help provide.”

Ongoing Education – the Gift That Keeps Giving

     Foundation dollars can also cover the cost of ongoing staff training. One local woman who had dreams of becoming a nurse when she was younger left a $10,000 donation to Cumberland Medical Center as part of her estate planning. Her donation will fund five scholarships for another generation of Cumberland Medical Center nurses to help them achieve that next level of education. Birmingham says examples of this type of overwhelming generosity happen all the time.

Covenant Health Employees Pay It Forward

     The WeCare Campaign is the health system’s annual employee giving campaign and the foundation’s single largest fundraising event each year. In fact, Covenant Health employees and physicians gave more than $600,000 to assist fellow employees and patients throughout the region in 2019 alone.
     “We’re not asking the community to do something that our employees aren’t already doing. We give them the opportunity and they step up in a big way. It truly is a reflection of our culture and Pledge of Excellence. We ask the community to give back, and it’s important to know that Covenant Health employees are giving first,” says Birmingham.

How You Can Help

     You, too, can pay it forward by participating in one of Covenant Health’s many philanthropic events. Run in a 5K. Golf in a foundation tournament. Buy some art. To learn more, visit or call 865-531-5210.


Upcoming Events


Date: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019
Location: Rothchild Catering & Conference Center
Public art sale benefits: patients and families of Peninsula Behavioral Health
Participate: Visit for more information

Race Against Cancer

Date: Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019
Location: World’s Fair Park
Proceeds benefit:  the outreach and cancer prevention efforts of Thompson Cancer Survival Center
Participate: Visit for more information

Jingle Run for Hope

Date: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
Location: Downtown Morristown
Proceeds benefit: Patient Assistance Fund at Morristown Regional Cancer Center
Participate: Visit for more information