“The Brigham showed early leadership by jumping into action to develop antibody testing and set up multiple clinical trials of possible treatments. Our hope is the Brigham can find a drug or vaccine to help stop the spread and save lives.”
When Karen and Chris Watkins learned of the COVID-19 Response Fund at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, they acted without hesitation. In April, the E.G. Watkins Family Foundation provided a $5 million grant to the Brigham to meet urgent needs, including caring for patients and safeguarding frontline staff.
“This is our hospital,” says Chris, who, with Karen, has supported the Brigham as a philanthropist and volunteer leader for the past two decades. “Our decision was simple. The hospital needed our help, so we made an immediate investment.”
What touched them most, Karen says, was hearing about the need to purchase tablets so patients could connect with loved ones who could not visit the hospital for safety reasons. Most heartbreaking, she says, was knowing that for some families and friends, these tablets offer a chance to say a final goodbye.
For Brigham President Betsy Nabel, MD, the Watkins’ generosity and compassion are especially meaningful.
“Karen and Chris were among the first people I met when I came on board as the Brigham’s president. When we need help, they step up without fanfare, and this gift to our COVID-19 Response Fund is no exception. Their goal is to make an immediate impact and encourage others to give, at any level. We cannot thank them enough.”
While helping Nabel address the hospital’s short-term needs was the first concern for Karen, Chris, and the family foundation, they also recognized the long-term ramifications of the virus.
“Anyone supporting the Brigham in the early days of this pandemic helped the hospital establish a strong footing,” Chris says. “But the Brigham needs continued support, especially for research, to control and stop this virus.”
Karen adds, “The Brigham showed early leadership by jumping into action to develop antibody testing and set up multiple clinical trials of possible treatments. Our hope is the Brigham can find a drug or vaccine to help stop the spread and save lives.”
The couple is humbled to be part of a collective effort. “So many people are coming together—healthcare workers, frontline staff, researchers, and people donating supplies, giving their time, and giving money,” says Karen. “Putting all those people together, we are one big family.”