Imagine what could happen if an organization had money that was not part of its operating budget and that could be used to further the organization’s mission to improve the community. What could these additional funds do for healthcare in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico? In 1980, a group of forward-thinking community leaders recognized the value that philanthropic support could add to a hospital and founded St. Vincent Hospital Foundation (SVHF). In the years since, the foundation has identified healthcare needs that are unmet and creatively addressed those needs. Governed by an independent board of directors, the foundation raises funds to meet the hospital’s needs for capital projects, major equipment, patient and community programs, education and special projects.
One of SVHF’s biggest initiatives is to raise money for capital projects. Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center is in the midst of a $44-million project to add a new wing and is creating all-private rooms for its adult patients. The foundation has committed to raising $11 million toward this endeavor. The expansion includes:
· The addition of 36 new private rooms, plus the transformation of all existing shared patient rooms to private rooms, which will provide increased patient safety and comfort and a reduced risk of infection.
· Improved patient-caregiver communication by eliminating privacy and confidentiality issues that arise in shared rooms.
· A sleeper sofa in each room will allow a family member to comfortably stay with a patient, which studies have shown promotes healing.
· Improved, state-of-the-art technology means better patient outcomes.
SVHF also supports patients who need mammograms and other diagnostic tests for breast cancer, which can be prohibitively expensive for low-to-moderate income people with no health insurance. Early diagnosis increases survival rates but is difficult without these screenings. The foundation created the Breast Cancer Care Fund in 2009 to provide financial assistance to anyone who would not otherwise have access to these procedures. This fund ensures that uninsured people whose income is low enough that cost presents a financial barrier, and who don’t qualify for other financial-assistance screening programs, get the healthcare they need.
In addition, SVHF helps patients who need medication or medical equipment but can’t afford it. Most patients served by this program are undergoing cancer treatment and need pain medication. Case managers identify other special needs, which might include medical equipment such as a walker, arms for the side of a bed, a raised toilet seat, or compression socks—basically any needs patients have that might present a financial hardship. SVHF has also paid for hotel rooms for family members of patients in ICU, provided gas cards or meal cards, and has even paid a patient’s utility bill so the individual’s heat wouldn’t be turned off.
SVHF is also committed to young people through the Healthcare Exploration Program, Books for Babies, and Reach Out and Read. Designed to give interested students exposure, motivation, and tools to pursue a healthcare career and, ultimately, to alleviate the growing shortage of healthcare professionals in Santa Fe, the Healthcare Exploration Program provides an opportunity for high-school students to explore healthcare careers through a competitive, intensive, hands-on paid educational experience at northern New Mexico’s largest community regional medical center. Books for Babies is a program that gives the family of each baby born at the hospital a high-quality baby book, a tote bag and information on the critical importance of reading to your baby every day. Reach Out and Read serves over 12,000 children each year at Arroyo Chamiso Pediatric Clinic and Entrada Contenta Pediatric Clinic. It helps prepare Santa Fe’s children for success in school by partnering with pediatricians, nurses and other trusted medical professionals, who “prescribe” books, encourage families to read together and give them quality children’s books.
Led by dedicated, concerned community members who believe in the value of philanthropy, SVHF continues to make important contributions to our community, as it has done for the past 37 years.
For more information, contact Jeff Lamie, executive director, St. Vincent Hospital Foundation 505.913.5209, Jeff.Lamie@stvin.org