Sep 8, 2023 - News

Dan Gilbert's big move on health care

Rendering of Henry Ford Health's planned medical facility and patient tower.

Looking east down West Grand Boulevard at Henry Ford Health's planned medical facility and patient tower. Rendering: Courtesy of Henry Ford Health

Dan Gilbert's next move in Detroit is intended to leave a long legacy of improving rehabilitative care.

Why it matters: The Rocket Companies founder and his wife, Jennifer, announced Wednesday they're giving $374 million for a physical rehab hospital and neurofibromatosis (NF) research. Compared with their last giant funding announcement, it's a laser-focused, personal investment from the family.

  • The Gilberts' $500 million for Detroit neighborhoods, announced in 2021, is a broader bucket with piecemeal programs for lightning-rod resident issues like property tax relief and eviction defense.

What's happening: The Gilberts are now financing two additions to Henry Ford Health's $2.5 billion expansion plans around New Center alongside MSU:

  • $119 million for a 72-bed facility for severe conditions like strokes in Henry Ford's new patient tower, slated to open in 2029. The space will be managed by Chicago rehab provider Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, where Gilbert went to recover from his 2019 stroke.
  • $50 million for the Nick Gilbert Neurofibromatosis Research Institute, opening in 2027. Dedicated to their son Nick, it's expected to be the first brick-and-mortar facility solely focused on NF research using "novel" technology. He died this May at age 26 due to complications from NF, which causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways. The Gilberts are also granting $190 million for operations and research.
Dan Gilbert speaks at a podium alongside his wife, Jennifer.
Dan and Jennifer Gilbert speak during Wednesday's event. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

Plus, the Gilbert Family Foundation plans a $10 million fund to help low-income Detroiters with little to no medical insurance access care at AbilityLab once it opens.

What he's saying: Gilbert, who delivered remarks for the downtown Book Tower's ribbon-cutting in June but rarely speaks publicly since having the debilitating stroke, stood up from a wheelchair to speak at a Book Tower podium with Jennifer on Wednesday.

  • "We're here today because we believe that Detroit deserves the very best," he said. "We've spent our adult lives trying to create the best companies to attract the most talented minds, building and rehabbing the finest buildings … and also developing the best programs to impact the lives of Detroiters.
  • "We also believe that every Detroiter should be able to access the best health care and benefit from the most promising medical research," Gilbert said, adding that they are "proud" Detroit will become "a leader" in stroke rehabilitation.
MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff, left, shakes hands with Dan Gilbert, who's sitting next to his wife Jennifer
MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff (left) shakes hands with Dan Gilbert, who's sitting next to his wife, Jennifer, and Laura Grannemann, executive director of the Gilbert Family Foundation. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios
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