From left: Marcie Natan, Hadassah National President; Assaf Galay, Pollin’s grandson in law; Hannah Pollin-Galay, Pollin’s granddaughter who announced the gift, and Nancy Falchuk, past Hadassah National President.
Expanding on her work in the Washington region and throughout the country to empower women to lead heart healthy lives, Irene Pollin of Bethesda has newly partnered her women’s heart health foundation, Sister to Sister, with Hadassah. The two groups will raise awareness about heart disease in women through live screening programs and local education initiatives.
“The positive, influential way in which Sister to Sister empowers women to take charge of their health is truly remarkable,” said Deborah Epstein, Sister to Sister board member and Potomac resident. “This new partnership is a major step forward in the organization’s evolution, and I can’t wait until we start seeing even more results. It’s also just really great that a pioneer of the women’s heart health movement lives and operates in our backyard.”
More than 40,000 women to date have attended events held by Sister to Sister in the Washington metro region, 10,000 of whom received free cardiovascular screenings with immediate results, followed by counseling. Sister to Sister has also leveraged Washington’s reach throughout the country and the world by screening and educating federal lawmakers and members of the international community that reside in the area. The group has held events on Capitol Hill to get members of Congress and their staff heart smart, at the World Bank for its first Global Workplace Wellness Program last year, and at Neiman Marcus, where the wives of 90 ambassadors came not to shop, but to get screened and learn about preventing heart disease.
Washington will remain a key area of focus for the new partnership to carry out its mission in the U.S. and Israel, according to Pollin, who is Sister to Sister’s founder and chairman, as well as the widow of philanthropist and former Washington Wizards and Capitals owner, Abe Pollin.
“Operating in the D.C. area is particularly critical for me, not just because of my deep connection to the community, but because it’s a second home to so many key influencers in the U.S. and around the world,” said Pollin. “When we share our message with these leaders and their staff, they take it back home and pass it on to countless others.”
Altogether, Sister to Sister has screened more than 100,000 women across the U.S. for free and touched hundreds of thousands on top of that with the message that although heart disease is currently the leading killer of women, it doesn’t have to be.
According to National President of Hadassah Marcie Natan, “Sister to Sister brings to the partnership tested content regarding heart care and prevention. Hadassah has a long history of providing materials, education and training around medical issues (e.g. genetic diseases, cancer testing and treatment). The collaboration provides a unique opportunity to build on both organizations’ strengths to deliver the best in health care.”
The partnership was announced in conjunction with a $10 million gift being made to Hadassah Medical Organization by Pollin to establish the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute in Jerusalem. Named after Pollin’s daughter, Linda Joy, who was born with a congenital heart condition that took her life at the age of 16, the Pollin Institute will be the primary vehicle for carrying out women’s heart health programs on behalf of Hadassah and Sister to Sister in Jerusalem and the surrounding region. The two groups will be replicating and scaling up what Sister to Sister has been doing in Washington and throughout the U.S. since 1999.
“Since founding Sister to Sister, I have longed to find a place outside of the United States to establish a heart disease prevention program geared toward women,” Pollin said. “Partnering with Hadassah is an obvious extension of the work we’ve been doing, of the gimmick-free, prevention-focused work that has made Sister to Sister unique. Given Hadassah’s 100 years of experience helping women of all backgrounds take better care of themselves, I could not think of a better way to reach out to our sisters across the globe than establishing the Linda Joy Pollin Institute at Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Heart disease knows no boundaries, and neither will we.”
The groups will also work to promote Smart for the Heart, a free, web-based cardiovascular wellness tool provides online heart health risk assessments along with recommendations and resources for making healthier lifestyle choices.
“Technology has afforded us the ability to reach every corner of the globe,” Pollin said. “The medically-certified Smart for the Heart online wellness program is backed by Sister to Sister, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and now Hadassah. I’m thrilled that our lifesaving work will be amplified by Hadassah and the organization’s vast reach and expertise.”
Data shows that through relatively simple lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier, and getting more sleep and exercise, a woman can lower her risk of getting heart disease by as much as 82 percent. Pollin, who established Sister to Sister in 1999 after she learned that heart disease is the number one killer of women, hopes that people who are lucky enough to have been born with a healthy heart will take care of it.