More than 10% of the nation’s health care facilities are seeking grants from Cardinal Health through a $1 million fund set up by the company to help improve patient safety, according to a press release from the company.

Company officials said more than 700 hospitals, health systems, and community health clinics responded to their announcement in August about the grant program, which is the largest and first of its kind in the private sector. To support initiatives that enhance patient safety and quality of care, Cardinal Health will grant up to $50,000 per facility to fund new and innovative programs that establish or implement creative and replicable methods to address challenges in providing quality patient care and to help drive improvements.

The company expects to fund up to 40 of the 730 grant requests.

“We know that health care providers are focused on safety and quality, but the overwhelming response to our grant program brings this issue into even sharper focus and highlights the interest to accelerate improvements,” said R. Kerry Clark, chief executive officer of Cardinal Health. “A focus on improving quality will also go a long way toward lowering costs within the entire health care system. We are pleased to assist the health care community in making meaningful progress in this important endeavor.”

In selecting grant recipients, Cardinal Health’s selection committee will look for:

• projects  that respond to a clearly identified, high priority safety issue,
• projects  that apply new thinking and approaches to development of solutions,
• collaborative programs,
• demonstrable and sustainable measures to assure that improvements hold up over time; and
• model  programs that can be replicated at other organizations.

To be eligible for funding, facilities must be designated as 501(c)(3) by the IRS and were required to submit a letter of intent to submit a proposal by October 12. Approximately 100 to 150 institutions will be asked to submit a full proposal, with grants announced in March 2008.