Ephraim McDowell Foundation puts local dollars to work improving health care

This week is National Hospital Week — seven days to spend celebrating hope and healing, according to the American Hospital Association, and celebrating the women and men who support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

Jessica Johnson said she never even thought about how the hospital is right here in her backyard — until her family needed it. Before she came to work for Ephraim McDowell Health Care Foundation as its major gifts development specialist, she received an alarming phone call about her husband.

          Johnson

“We thought he was having a heart attack,” Johnson said. His blood pressure was so elevated, they took him straight to the ER and were cautioning about stroke potential. “We found out it was genetic — just one of those things.”

Johnson had never even thought about Ephraim McDowell, but said she couldn’t forget the hospital after the situation with her husband. “It rocked our world, but just after dealing with them, how amazing they were with us … this opportunity presented itself to take the job at the foundation, and I just stepped out in faith.”

After two months on the job now, Johnson said she is still surprised with all that the foundation funds in the community.

“No one really thinks about investing in healthcare. For me, when my husband got sick, I realized how I took for granted the hospital we have here, until I needed it. Giving to the foundation is a way to help provide and enhance services and technology, and a way to be a part of what makes this community great,” Johnson said.

Jacquie Peterson, manager of donor development and special events, has been with the foundation for eight years. She said most of what they support is “internal facing, but everything we do affects the community.”

Some external projects have also been funded, like last year when the foundation paid for 10 automatic external defibrillators for Danville Police Department cruisers.

“It’s still within our mission, since they are first-responders,” Peterson said, and they can deliver lifesaving care until the person is attended to by EMS or taken to hospital.

The foundation supports projects throughout the Ephraim McDowell Health system. At Ephraim McDowell, it funded $1 million of the da Vinci Surgical System; paid $98,000 for a germ-killing robot that uses ultraviolet light to kill organisms in hospital rooms; paid $59,900 for a clot-busting system that works to less invasively break up blood clots for patients; purchased an ultrasound machine for $26,276; and paid $33,057 for a portable unit to diagnose swallowing disorders.

At Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan, the foundation paid for a CPR system ($13,058); a neonatal CPAP for newborn babies with breathing issues ($10,341); a fetal monitor ($14,942); a uterine positioning system for women’s surgeries ($9,500); and cardiac monitors ($41,000).

The da Vinci Surgical System is just one of the many technologically advanced pieces of machinery the Ephraim McDowell Health Care Foundation has helped fund. (Photo courtesy of Ephraim McDowell Health. )

Glucometers ($122,000) were purchased to measure blood sugar levels for all three hospitals, including Ephraim McDowell James B. Haggin Hospital. Numerous other purchases were made for the heart and vascular institute, Commonwealth Cancer Center and McDowell Wellness Center.

“These are far-reaching projects,” Peterson said. “If we didn’t offer those services here, you’d have to drive to Lexington or Louisville.” She said add that up, with an hour trip both ways, waiting to see a doctor, add the appointment time and someone can be out half a day.

“Now, for certain procedures and tests, patients can get it done on their lunchtimes, or before or after work. It helps business owners whose employees otherwise would have to take off more time. It’s all in the name of preventive care,” Peterson said. “We love being able to provide those things here and now, in our community.”

One of the most highly used programs is the chaplain’s fund, which pays for medicines and durable goods for patients who can’t afford them. It is also used for assisting any associates who are in need of financial assistance due to a dire situation.

The foundation funds Camp Can Do, a day camp for children with special needs; Camp Healthy Kids, for children with food aversions; and Camp School Prep, for children who have therapeutic needs and are entering preschool.

Other funds established by the foundation include the Good Works Fund, supporting projects in cancer care, cardiac care and women’s health; the Cardiac Initiatives Fund, ensuring facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment; and the Cancer Initiatives Fund, providing education, prevention, early screening and detection diagnostic equipment for those battling cancer. The foundation also supports the Hope Clinic and pharmacy, which provides free services to eligible patients.

“Pretty much every part of our health system has been touched by the foundation and supporting projects,” Peterson said. It also pays for education for associates, who go off to training and return to spread what they learned.

“We are definitely not the hospital. We’re sort of the fund that is separate for those things that we really want to provide for the community,” Peterson said.

“When I think of our community, I look at it like a lake. If you cast your pebble, it has a ripple effect,” Johnson said. “If we’re all doing that, investing in the healthcare of our community, it will make a difference.”

         Peterson

Peterson said she thinks about “the ripples” often, in many ways — from heart attack patients getting treatment, knowing the foundation paid for heart monitors, to the neonatal CPAP, allowing a newborn to stay in the room with Mom and Dad.

“But what hit home for me is when we went to see Camp Can Do. Those children have tons of people around them who are just like them,” Peterson said, allowing them to feel included.

The foundation holds three major fundraising events annually: the Happy Heart Luncheon in February; the Golf Classic scramble in May; and the Luminosity benefit, planned for Aug. 10 this year.

“As far as observing National Hospital Week, we love doing that,” Peterson said. She said the unique thing about the hospital is that it’s “all-encompassing. It takes everyone working together to make a hospital run.”

Peterson said for her, it’s also very unique that Ephraim McDowell is an independent facility. “We’re not part of a bigger one. We’re truly here to serve our communities. Everyone who works here is so involved in the community, but it also affects the economic health. We employ people, they pay taxes and put investments back out into the community …”

Peterson said she is grateful the community supports the hospital. “It takes a community. We can’t do it without them, or the associates.”

Jeremy Cocanougher, marketing communications manager for Ephraim McDowell Health, said many are surprised when they get to see some of the inner workings of a hospital. “We really are like our own city over here,” he said, with their own plumbers and maintenance people, for example.

Ephraim McDowell Health Care Foundation funds Camp Can Do, a day camp for children with special needs. (Photo courtesy of Ephraim McDowell Health.)

Dr. Lynne Warner Lynn, system VP and chief nursing officer for Ephraim McDowell, said more than 5,000 hospitals across the country will be celebrating National Hospital Week. She is also hospital administrator for Ephraim McDowell James B. Haggin.

“It is a time to recognize everyone together — nurses, doctors, administrative assistants, therapists, food services associates, maintenance crews, volunteers, marking staff, registration associates …” Lynn said. “It takes each associate working together to make it possible for the EMH system to provide excellent services to the communities.”