[caption id="attachment_84489" align="alignleft" width="300"] Attending the awards ceremony were Maddy Hirshfield, district director for Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro; Steve Ramsland, chief executive officer of Redwood Community Health Coalition; Dr. Lisa Ward,, chief medical officer for Santa Rosa Community Health Centers; Dr. Deborah Roberts, clinical director for the Jewish Community Free Clinic; Daniel Rabkin, program manager for Operation Access; David Bruce, Medtronic Philanthropy liaison, and Rita Scardaci, director of Sonoma County Health Services.[/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Medtronic operations in Santa Rosa selected the Redwood Community Health Coalition, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, Jewish Community Free Clinic and Operation Access to receive a total of $450,000 in Health Access Grants from Medtronic Philanthropy over the next two years.

“In addition to offering medical devices that alleviate pain, restore health and extend life, Medtronic is committed to funding initiatives that expand access to quality chronic disease care for the underserved worldwide,” said business attorney David Bruce, the company’s philanthropy liaison in Santa Rosa. “That commitment starts in the many communities we call home.”

Medtronic Health Access Grants are awarded to community-based organizations in recognition of their continued commitment to expanding access to healthcare. Health Access Grants are awarded in 34 communities, including Sonoma County, where Medtronic has a major presence.

At an awards ceremony, Mr. Bruce described the grants as an extraordinary step for Medtronic Philanthropy. The grants are intended to increase access to care for uninsured or under-insured people as a strategy to reduce chronic diseases such as diabetes and others.

Steve Ramsland, CEO of Redwood Community Health Coalition, the umbrella agency for 17 health centers in Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Yolo counties, said its share of the grant will help the organization reach and manage the cases of 40,000 people at risk of chronic disease.

Dr. Lisa Ward, chief medical officer for the Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, said the region's largest network of clinics will use its grants to reduce instances of diabetes among women who are pregnant. The goal of the "Sweet Success" program is to help women be able to say they are a "new mom, not a new diabetic."

Dr. Deborah Roberts, clinical director for the Jewish Community Free Clinic, said the 11-year-old organization will use the grant to increase its understanding of the needs in the community.

And Daniel Rabkin, program manager for Operation Access, which links patients in need with volunteer physicians and surgeons, said the grant will help make the process more seamless for medical providers.

Medtronic employs approximately 1,000 people in Sonoma County. Two of the company’s cardiovascular businesses are based in Santa Rosa. The Coronary/Renal Denervation business  and The Endovascular Therapies.