TMH seeks funds |

TMH seeks funds

Hospital may form foundation to raise money for building

Ryan Sheridan

The Memorial Hospital has formed a steering committee to examine the need for a hospital foundation. If there is a need, the committee will organize and launch the committee.

“This could be an opportunity to do something really special in our community, a chance not to update just the hospital, but to update the entire health care delivery system, of which the hospital is a key piece,” said Hospital Administrator Randy Phelps. “With a foundation, we would have access to resources we are now denied since we are a public entity resources from the Ford Foundation, other similar organizations and private grants. We can’t do all that we need to do for our community with the [profit] margins we make at TMH.”

TMH officials have been working on a plan to construct a new hospital for three years.

A new facility is needed, they say, because the existing building does not meet federal building codes or patient needs.

Options for funding the construction vary from asking taxpayers for a mill levy increase, to getting additional funds from the federal government by changing the hospital’s status, to doing independent fund-raising through the creation of a foundation.

“This committee is being formed to see if creating a foundation makes sense. We asked [the members] to go on a journey with us for a while to build up the base to launch a foundation, if that is discovered to be a good idea for this hospital and the community.”

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The committee will explore the feasibility of creating a private, 501-c3 organization that would raise funds from philanthropic organizations, apply for private grants and solicit donations.

The idea of creating a hospital foundation was approved at the April 25 Hospital Board meeting, and on Wednesday, the steering committee had its inaugural meeting.

The membership consists of Phelps, Roger White, chief financial officer TMH; Pam Thompson, director of community relations; Betsy Bair, performance and improvement director; Thomas Hakert, president of 1st National Bank of the Rockies; Gene Bryant of Colowyo Coal Company; Bill Lawrence; Marianna Raftopoulos, Moffat County Commissioner; Donna Russo; Dale Thompson; Betsy Peck; Jack Bonaker; hospital board member; Gail Severson and Kent Nielson, city council member.

Recently, TMH decided to forego asking residents for a mill levy increase for tax support of a new facility.

The hospital is now examining the option of becoming a Critical Access facility, which could improve its profit margin so that the debt load for a new facility could be entirely or mostly met without taxpayer support.

The formation of a hospital foundation would also be another source of revenue for the facility, and could work to raise funds for future projects.

“In my vision, the steering committee will write the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, set the number of foundation members, and those [who are on steering committee] who want to continue on as foundation members,” Phelps said. “Eventually, the Hospital Foundation would become self perpetuating like the United Way Board.

“From my experience, when hospital foundations work well, they’ve had connectivity with a Hospital Board. We envision a continuing relationship to our Board; each Board meeting would have a report from the foundation,” he said.

Lawrence agreed with Phelps’ proposal.

“The Board needs to give guidance, ideas and needs to the foundation,” he said. “A foundation needs to walk lockstep with the Board, so not to go off on separate issues.”

Other members also were pleased with the composition and mission of the Steering Committee, and the goal of possibly launching a hospital foundation.

“I’m very encouraged by the process we’re looking at. This needs to be done, and I am interested in investigating this idea,” Peck said.

Severson also was “encouraged,” and felt confident this was a good process.

“We have a good group. I can see the reason for looking at the idea of a foundation,” she said.

Committee member Bryant said that how the committee is constructed is an important factor.

“You can argue the details all you want, [creating a foundation] could be the right thing for the community. Having a segment of the community at large participate in this project is a good process.”

The hospital is looking at the end of October as the “go or no go” deadline for the formation of a foundation, according to Thompson, who is spearheading TMH’s effort with the steering committee.

“We would like to have the foundations members, bylaws and Articles of Incorporation by the end of November,” she said. “Today, we accomplished all we wanted discussed information on foundations, formed a consensus.

“The next meeting will be concentrating on foundation set up we hope to bring in a consultant on this grant writing and looking at examples of other foundation’s bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.”

The date for the next steering committee meeting has not be set, but should occur in the next three to four weeks, Thompson said.

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