Foundation Board dissolved | SteamboatToday.com

Foundation Board dissolved

Health care reps released over disagreement on direction

The leadership of Yampa Valley Medical Center is contemplating major changes in the way it pursues charitable contributions.

Community members serving on the board of the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley have been excused from their roles, and responsibility for the independent nonprofit has been pulled back within direct supervision of the hospital. The changes come about weeks after the foundation’s executive director, Jim Murphy, was fired after just four months on the job.

“We’re going to bring it back home for a little bit,” YVMC Board of Directors Chairman Bob Maddox said. “We anticipate reorganization to re-emphasize the hospital.”

The decision to disband the existing 11-member foundation board and start over is being attributed primarily to diverging opinions on the role of the foundation. Some board members felt the funds raised by the foundation should go primarily to causes contained within the campus of the hospital in Steamboat Springs. Others felt the foundation had a broader role of serving public health concerns throughout Northwest Colorado that also would benefit the hospital indirectly.

The health care foundation was incorporated in July 2001 and began functioning in January 2002. In 2003, it had total revenues of $527,689 from its Founders’ Circle, spe-

cial events, contributions and interest income. The foundation disbursed more than $319,000 in 2003, offering funding to 51 requests.

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The biggest single funding item was $185,000 devoted to computerized mammography equipment for the hospital’s radiology department. However, the foundation made many smaller grants ranging from $79 for nutritional education for diabetes patients to $500 for holiday gifts for residents of the Doak Walker Care Center. The foundation also funded $33,900 for electric beds at the care center.

Community funding requests granted by the foundation in 2003 included $1,200 to help the Grand County Council on Aging transport elderly patients to medical appointments. Pioneers Hospital of Rio Blanco received $4,925 to help with the creation of a community health and wellness program. Steamboat Mental Health was granted $2,500 to help fund a support program for struggling youth. Advocates Against Battering and Abuse received $5,000 for a high school violence prevention program. The largest community grant was $10,521 supplied to Colorado Northwestern Community College to fund a faculty position for its nursing program. Other grantees included the Humble Ranch, Independent Life Center and the Miles for Smiles dental program.

Maddox said the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was created to cement the legal standing of the health care foundation has not been dissolved, and the foundation remains “a viable organization.” He said the decision to terminate Murphy’s employment was just one factor in the larger decision to go in a new direction with the organization of the foundation.

“It was meant to be a broad-based community board, not a hospital board. It never seemed like we ever got any traction,” Maddox said. “We weren’t getting anything done. We felt like we were wasting everybody else’s time.”

Geneva Taylor, one of the former citizen members of the foundation board, said she shared Maddox’s view that the foundation was spinning its wheels.

“I agree. I was not happy with the way it was moving. There was a split in the board over where we were going. Bob actually called me and said they needed to do some more work.”

Maddox acknowledged there were varying points of view on the board about whether the focus should be primarily on the hospital or on broader health care issues in the community. Broader issues might include immunization, dental and prenatal screening clinics, for example. Excused foundation members did not disagree that the primary role of the foundation was to support the hospital. Disagreement on the subject was a matter of emphasis for several board members.

“We all understood that making the hospital strong came first,” Paula Cooper Black said. “The job of the (foundation) board, first and foremost, was to make sure the hospital was taken care of. Beyond that, we also saw tremendous opportunities to deal with broad health care issues out in the community that would ultimately have a positive effect on the hospital itself.”

Foundation chairman John Kerst, who formerly served on the YVMC board for eight years, said he remains hopeful the restructured foundation will continue to fund community health issues.

“I think you will find there will continue to be a direction to fund other things,” Kerst said. “That’s the vision we all had for it. Yes, we’ve done a lot for the hospital, but also for the balance of health care needs. What I hope is that there continues to be grants used not just for the hospital, but funds will be available and granted to other organizations in Northwest Colorado.”

Taylor said she was interested in extending to financial support to the broader community, but she feels strongly there is a need to place the hospital’s needs first.

“First and utmost, we need to keep the hospital in good financial condition before reaching out because our hospital is not supported by any tax,” Taylor said. “Not enough people understand that.”

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com