Crystal Hinson Miller, president of IU Health Foundation, is a national leader in healthcare philanthropy. Here, she shares her personal reflections.
Having worked in healthcare philanthropy since the late 1990s, I’ve heard and used the phrase “destination healthcare” for years. But it wasn’t until a few months after I came to Indiana that the phrase really hit home.
I moved here from Durham, N.C., to join IU Health in 2017, with my husband and kids joining me a few months later. After we had a little time to settle in, my in-laws drove up from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a fall visit to our house, just about 10 minutes from IU Health North Hospital.
That location proved to be vital, as, shortly after they arrived, my father-in-law had an aortic dissection, an often-fatal tear in the wall of the aorta. We quickly got him to IU Health North, where it was decided that he needed to be treated at IU Health Methodist. I vividly recall hearing the helicopter flying over our house to take him to downtown Indianapolis, where he received care that was literally life-saving.
Remarkably, my father-in-law did not require the surgery that often is necessary for an aortic dissection because, here in Indiana, we have access to a leading academic medical center that pioneers and perfects the latest approaches to care. Instead, non-surgical interventions put him on the road to recovery, interventions he likely would not have access to in Fort Lauderdale, where there is not an academic medical center.
This kind of care, commonly referred to as destination healthcare, draws people to Indiana from across the nation.
It’s the kind of care that drew Chris Curry to Indiana. Diagnosed with seminoma testicular cancer in January of 2022, Chris underwent chemotherapy near his North Carolina home, but it didn’t have the impact his doctors had hoped for. So they referred him to IU Health and Dr. Larry Einhorn. After a little research and a conversation with Dr. Einhorn, Chris knew he had found his destination for care. And a destination for hope.
People come to Indiana from across the country and even around the globe specifically to get care at IU Health. But my point isn’t that we provide healthcare to the world; it’s that Hoosiers have access to such renowned healthcare every day.
For example, Ryan Hoke came to Indianapolis from Decker, Ind., just south of Vincennes, when it was decided that, after a decade of declining liver functions, he needed a liver transplant. Some people fly across the country to receive transplants at IU Health, but Ryan was able to travel just a couple of hours up the road. A year later, he wrote a letter to the IU Health team thanking them for making it possible for him to see his son graduate from preschool – an experience that, a year earlier, was in doubt.
Being a healthcare destination puts world-changing therapies and care within reach of people who live nearby. It makes innovative therapies available years before they are found in other places. It treats conditions and diseases that otherwise might be considered untreatable. It grants access to clinical practices that can’t be found elsewhere.
A key component of what makes Indiana a healthcare destination is IU Health’s team of elite medical academicians. These innovators drive new visions of care and also attract other healthcare pioneers who want to practice as well as shape top medical care.
The new IU Health academic health center in downtown Indianapolis will increase our state’s status as a healthcare destination by creating a place that brings together a massive, state-of-the-art hospital; the largest medical school in the United States; an array of cutting-edge centers of medical excellence; and more. As we create this magnet that draws people from around the world, we also make its benefits available to people who live around the corner, down the road and throughout the state.
Even as we celebrate the incredible IU Health professionals who make Indiana a healthcare destination, we also celebrate the people and organizations that support pioneering medicine with philanthropic gifts. It simply would not be possible for our team to create groundbreaking therapies, devise fresh approaches and set new standards for care if not for the vision and generosity of our donors.
Donors like you make it possible for us to deliver the care that drew Chris Curry from a distant state, that attracted Ryan Hoke from Southern Indiana, and, yes, that saved my father-in-law when he was far from home but exactly where he needed to be.
Thanks to people like you, IU Health is a healthcare destination for people near and far.