February 2, 2018

Hospitals look more to philanthropy for upgrades

Fundraising paid for a new breast cancer screening center at Rutland Regional Medical Center. (Courtesy photo)

When the Rutland Regional Medical Center wanted to upgrade its breast cancer screening, the hospital turned to its fundraising arm, the Rutland Health Foundation, for help.

The foundation raised $362,253 to purchase one of two 3-D breast imaging machines as part of the hospital’s Early Detection Saves Lives breast cancer awareness campaign.

“The Rutland Health Foundation took responsibility for raising funds for one of the new units,” said foundation director Traci Moore. “Each unit comes with a price tag of $350,000.”

It’s just the latest project for the Rutland Health Foundation.

Moore said the foundation works closely with the “hospital’s leadership to really determine and understand priority needs for the hospital and align our fundraising goals and strategies with those needs.”

RRMC will purchase two new imaging machines next month, which will be operational in early July.

The devices give doctors the ability to detect abnormalities at an earlier stage. Currently, the closest hospital with that type of equipment is Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

RRMC isn’t alone in relying on fundraising for projects large and small.

Fundraising played no small role in construction of the University of Vermont Medical Center Robert E. and Holly D. Miller building. The hospital raised $30 million toward the $187 million price tag.

“Philanthropy is critically important to the operations at the medical center and the university with an ever-changing financial landscape in health care,” said Kevin McAteer, chief development officer for health sciences at UVM-MC and the UVM Foundation.

McAteer said philanthropy allows the hospital to embark on projects that could not be done given budget constraints.

He said the Green Mountain Care Board required a $30 million fundraising goal for the project.

“Even our regulators are looking at philanthropy as a funding source to help move important projects like this forward,” McAteer said.

When it opens next year, the Miller Building will have 128 single-patient rooms.

The hospital also relied on fundraising for its new mother-baby unit, raising $3 million toward the $16 million cost.

At Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, the hospital’s auxiliary has raised more than $1 million since its inception in 1968.

The funding is generated through sales at the CVMC Gift Shop and The Bene-fit Shop in Barre. Both shops are staffed by volunteers.

One of the hospital auxiliary’s annual projects is funding scholarships for those interested in a medical career.

“One of the major ones is that we give out $2,500 scholarships, 10 of them to area high school students and adult learners,” said CVMC Auxiliary President Marilyn White. Hospital employees are also eligible.

Other projects include: The Memory Garden adjacent to the hospital’s National Life Cancer Treatment Center; in-Patient Psychiatry Terrace project; yarn for a Healing Needles knitting group to make comfort shawls for patients and families in palliative care; adult CPR mannequins for nurse training; and urinalysis machines for the hospital’s Express Care walk-in department.

In addition to its annual fundraising efforts, the CVMC Auxiliary has an annual budget of $30,000 that White said is available to hospital departments for items that were not included in their annual budgets.

In Bennington, the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Foundation is looking toward the future.

“We’re in the process of putting together a long-term strategic plan called Vision 2020, which has three pillars: partnership, transformation and sustainability,” said Leslie Keefe, the foundation’s vice president of corporate development. “And that transformation piece is really looking at some major capital improvements of our facility here at Southwestern Vermont Health Care.”

Vision 2020 celebrates the hospital’s sustainability as it nears its 100th anniversary in June. The partnership leg refers to the hospital’s partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Two years ago, thanks to the generosity of one family, the foundation secured funding to purchase a linear accelerator for its cancer center, Keefe said. The Hoyt family donated $2.4 million toward the purchase of the equipment “which is critical to the delivery of radiation oncology to our cancer patients,” said Keefe. “… So that’s just one example of philanthropy at its best.”

In just its sixth year of operation, the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Foundation raised $4 million last year.

The Rutland Health Foundation also supports smaller projects, including a scholarship campaign for local high school and college students interested in a career in health care.

Moore said support for its fundraising goals comes from a variety of sources, individuals, businesses, corporate sponsorships and special events.

Moore said the fundraising could not happen without the support of volunteers.

The Rutland Health Foundation has hired its first-ever grants coordinator, who will oversee existing grants and apply for new grants. RRMC has $5.1 million in endowments and special funds.


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