Steamboat Springs The health care industry is always in a state of change, said Karl Gills, chairman of the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley.
New technologies and new regulations seem to emerge on a daily basis, but Gills said recent changes at the Healthcare Foundation are more than simple adjustments. Rather, the nonprofit organization is going through a whole new phase.
"We are working now to develop a permanent cardiology center in Steamboat," said Gills, who also serves as the chief executive officer of Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Gills said the Healthcare Foundation's board of directors has been working to establish a more active philanthropic presence for YVMC and also develop means to support other health-related agencies in the area.
"In order to do that there is significant capital improvement equipment needs that we have to take care of more cardiac diagnostic work here," Gills said. "We have a number of things that are current funding priorities, and we look to the foundation to help us do that."
Gills, who succeeded Steve Dawes as the Healthcare Foundation's chairman in May, said the organization's new president, Marilyn Johnson, is vital in raising the funds to keep YVMC a "top notch" facility.
"She has been extremely busy working to establish some structure around the fundraising process," he said.
Johnson, who has previously served as executive director of foundations at three universities, began working at the Healthcare Foundation in April after moving to Steamboat from San Diego.
Since her arrival, Johnson has helped the Healthcare Foundation transition into a new facility and has helped raise funds for a new nuclear medicine camera.
"The most exciting thing to me so far is that I'm in a community where people believe in supporting one another as far as what creates a great community," said Johnson, who has a doctorate in higher education administration.
"I see all the other nonprofit organizations supported by the people in this community," she said. "What was very encouraging is that the people here already believe in giving."
Gills said meeting YVMC's needs is almost solely dependent on those who give.
"The problem that hospitals have everywhere is (that) the demand for new technology, upgraded technology, outstrips the ability for hospitals to pay for all of that out of cash flow," said Johnson, who noted YVMC is currently undergoing an expansion to increase surgical space.
"We get no tax support. We only get three ways to raise funds to maintain our operations and expand it," Gills said. "One is from the patient charges we render. The other is that we have cash reserves that generate some interest, and the other is through philanthropy. Those are the only means we have to raise funds, so Marilyn's job is truly vital."
Johnson said future fundraising efforts will focus on updating YVMC's (Computed Tomography) scanner, which will allow for improved cardiac imaging. The price tag is $1.7 million.
Another item on Gills' wish list is a digital mammography unit, which is becoming state of the art for mammography screening. The cost is $500,000.
"One of the challenges we have is meeting expectations - not just our own, but of those in the community," Gills said. "To keep up with our growing population and the growing demand for medical sophistication, philanthropy has to be part of that mix."
To raise funds for the medical center's cardiology initiative, the Healthcare Foundation is hosting Casino Night on Saturday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will feature blackjack, craps, roulette, slots and Texas hold'em poker, among other games. For more information, call 871-0700.