Los Angeles, California (Jan. 7, 2015) – Los Angeles financier and philanthropist Tom Gores and his wife Holly have made a $5 million commitment to establish a new pediatric allergy treatment center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). In honor of the family’s generous gift, the center will be named the Gores Family Allergy Center and plan to expand clinical treatment for children with severe and life-threatening allergies, in particular allergies to food. The center will be the first of its kind in Los Angeles, filling an important need in a city with thousands of children suffering from these medical conditions.
An estimated 1 in 13 children in the United States is affected by an allergy to foods like milk, eggs, peanuts, fish and shellfish—a figure that is steadily growing. Despite this fact, very few academic centers specialize in the treatment of severe food allergies.
“Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is grateful for this partnership and the Gores family’s commitment to the special care required for treatment of childhood allergies,” says Paul S. Viviano, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “In the United States alone, nearly six million children under the age of 18 suffer from a food allergy. For some of these children, a chance brush with trace amounts of the wrong food can place them in a battle for their lives.”
“For families with children who suffer from severe food allergies, simply going out to eat can be a scary and dangerous experience,” says Mrs. Gores. “We know firsthand what it’s like to live with that fear and we want to make more resources available here in Southern California to improve the lives of children diagnosed with food allergies.”
Mr. Gores says he’s excited about the impact the new center will have and that partnering with CHLA was a natural fit. “With access to the right tools and information, kids with severe food allergies can live with greater confidence, freedom and peace of mind,” he adds. “We have been working with CHLA for several years and have great faith in their mission and expertise.”
The Gores family first connected with CHLA in 2013 when their daughters, Catherina and Amanda, inspired by their brother’s severe food allergies, founded a charitable fundraising arm called EpiPals in partnership with CHLA. The EpiPals mission is to support families of children with severe food allergies through education, awareness, and the distribution of EpiPens to underserved Los Angeles communities. An EpiPen is an injectable form of epinephrine that can quickly reverse an allergic reaction. Through EpiPals, the Gores sisters have raised nearly $1 million for CHLA in support of allergy patients and the work of the Division of Clinical Immunology.
Joseph Church, MD, will head the Gores Family Allergy Center which will be based in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy at CHLA. “CHLA has developed a reputation for helping children with life-threatening health conditions,” says Church. “Now, thanks to the generosity of the Gores family, we have the opportunity to provide a much-needed resource to new and existing patients in Southern California – offering comprehensive treatment that is integrated with patient-centered research.”
The center’s immediate focus will be expanding CHLA’s treatment capabilities by hiring new staff and broadening the services available to patients with allergies and their families. A new physician allergist is joining the center this month. A dietician will be made available to provide nutritional evaluations, patient guidance and education on food-avoidance measures and a licensed psychologist will help support the emotional needs of patients and families. A registered nurse will be hired to coordinate clinical studies on innovative treatment for food allergies. Additionally, the center will engage in community outreach to local Los Angeles schools to ensure staff and students are educated about allergies.
Mr. Gores is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity, LLC, a global private equity firm based in Beverly Hills and is owner of the Detroit Pistons. He serves on the board of trustees for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Mrs. Gores serves as a Trustee of The Center for Early Education in West Hollywood.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a nonprofit pediatric health care organization dedicated to creating hope and building healthier futures for children. Honored as the premier children’s hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation, we treat 107,000 young patients annually from Los Angeles and around the world. As a pediatric charity of choice, the hospital relies on the generosity of the community to support its groundbreaking pediatric research and the complex care it provides for critically ill and injured children.