Donor Profile: W. Heywood Fralin


Haywood Fralin verticalW. Heywood Fralin is the chairman of Medical Facilities of America, which operates 40 skilled nursing facilities in Virginia and North Carolina. He is also co-chairman of Retirement Unlimited, which operates six assisted-living facilities in Virginia.

Mr. Fralin has participated in a variety of civic, educational, and charitable organizations. He was a member of the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia for eight years, serving as rector for two years. Mr. Fralin was also a member of the board of visitors at Virginia Tech for seven years.

He currently serves as chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and a director of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation Board. Mr. Fralin is a member of the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Foundation Board and the Virginia Research Investment Committee.

What is your connection to the Foundation? How did you first hear about the Foundation?
I’ve been aware of Foundation Chairman Neal Kassell, MD, for a long time. When I served on the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, I knew him as a leading neurosurgeon and to be involved in various research efforts.

Several years ago, I met with Neal and heard his presentation about focused ultrasound and the Foundation. The late Charles Steger, PhD, who served as the president of Virginia Tech and as a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, was a good friend of mine, and we would have conversations about the remarkable potential of focused ultrasound. I was impressed with what the Foundation was doing and felt that if there was any way I could help, I most certainly wanted to do so.

What moved you to get involved?
Our family’s philanthropic support is largely focused on the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at the Virginia Tech Carilion Academic Health Center, but I wanted to support the Foundation, as well. The US FDA approvals for essential tremor and Parkinson’s tremor are encouraging and a testament to the vast potential of this technology. I believe in Neal, and I am confident that focused ultrasound will be a major method of treating many more medical conditions, like cancer, in the future.

What excites you most about focused ultrasound?
I’m excited about how focused ultrasound will impact the future of medical care. And I’m pleased that there is so much innovative focused ultrasound research and treatment activity right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, at UVA and at Virginia Tech. The veterinary projects that the Virginia Tech team is leading are particularly exciting.

What impact do you hope to achieve through your philanthropy?
Ultimately, I hope that we will play a part in improving people’s lives and finding cures.

What do you tell others about the Foundation?
The future is bright. We’re still discovering what focused ultrasound can do, and I think we’ve just scratched the surface.

What would you tell someone who is considering making a gift to the Foundation?
Make it. It would be a good use of your funds if you hope to improve the quality of medical care in the United States and around the world.