Summa Health System

11/21/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/21/2019 10:37

Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Make New Gift of $2.1 Million to Summa Health

Date: 11/21/2019
Contact:Mike Bernstein

Akron Philanthropists' Support Surpasses $7 Million

AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 21, 2019 - Akron philanthropists Jim and Vanita Oelschlager have strengthened their lifelong commitment to mental wellness with a leadership gift of $2.1 million to Summa Health. This donation builds on the tradition of philanthropy the Oelschlagers have demonstrated to Summa Health for more than three decades and is an investment in promoting the highest-quality care for behavioral health patients.

The gift will further support the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, established in 2007, and help advance programmatic initiatives. The Oelschlagers' total philanthropic support of the health system now exceeds more than $7 million.

'The Oelschlagers' support is of paramount importance, helping Summa Health fulfill its commitment to the physical and mental health of each patient,' said Joseph D. Varley, M.D., chair, Department of Psychiatry and holder of the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.

The Oelschlagers' recent gift will provide broad programmatic support, including the following initiatives:
• Recruiting psychiatrists and other mental health professionals and supporting training in psychiatry and psychology.
• Expanding medically assisted treatment in the Akron City Hospital Emergency Department for patients with opiate addiction.
• Expanding the integration of Behavioral Health providers into primary care practices throughout the health system and New Health Collaborative.
• Developing resources to provide mental health services for physicians in the Akron community with diminished barriers to treatment.

Support will continue for the Jim and Vanita Oelschlager Chair in Traumatic Stress, established by the Oelschlagers in 2017 and held by Patrick Palmieri, Ph.D., director of the Traumatic Stress Center.

The Oelschlagers were inspired to make this important investment when learning of Summa's plans for construction of a 60-bed inpatient and outpatient behavioral health facility on the Summa Health System - Akron Campus. The new building, part of Phase 2 of the Summa Health Master Facility Plan, represents an investment of approximately $60 million and will create an integrated, state-of-the-art space that allows for a partial hospitalization program and enhanced integration with intensive outpatient services, including psychiatry, addiction medicine and traumatic stress.

In addition to providing an integrated space for both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services, the new facility will enable Summa to move the detox program to an acute medical setting, while also preserving and honoring the heritage of both Ignatia Hall and Alcoholics Anonymous. Groundbreaking on the new building is expected to take place in summer 2020, with completion scheduled for 2022.

'We share Summa Health's commitment to behavioral health and want to support its investment,' the Oelschlagers said in a joint statement. 'The decline in healthcare options for those facing mental health challenges is an extremely important societal issue, and we are proud to partner with Summa to make strong options available to the Akron region.'

'We are committed to providing the right care at the right time,' said Cliff Deveny, M.D., Summa Health president and chief executive officer. 'The Oelschlagers' gift will speed our efforts to include behavioral health providers in primary care offices across our entire network, where patients first seek help.'

Jim Oelschlager is founder and co-chief investment officer of Oak Associates, a U.S. investment management firm. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at 31, he founded the not-for-profit Oak Clinic, a facility where MS patients can get help for all aspects of the disease regardless of their ability to pay. Vanita Oelschlager, who assisted Jim in these endeavors, is an author and poet, current caregiver, and former teacher.

The Oelschlagers have a long history of philanthropic support of Summa Health. Jim is an Emeritus Member of the Summa Foundation Board of Directors and both are members of the Thomas W. Cornell Philanthropic Leadership Society, which recognizes donors with lifetime giving of $1 million or more to Summa Health.

About Summa Health
Summa Health is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and the Summa Health Foundation, we are nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet status), Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook at and Twitter,