Forsyth Medical eyes drives

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Forsyth Medical Center Foundation plans a series of drives to raise $25 million.

Formed in 1999 to raise money for Forsyth Medical Center, the foundation considered launching a capital campaign in 2005 to raise $30 million to $50 million.

But a study by Witzleben & Associates in Chapel Hill concluded the foundation and needs of the medical center were not well enough known to justify a big campaign, says G. Dee Smith, president and CEO.

“We’re fairly new,” says Smith, a former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco executive and retired president and chief operating officer of First Home Federal in Greensboro.

“Our biggest problem is really to educate the community,” he says, “not only about how strong we are as a medical center but also what the needs are for philanthropy.”

Instead of a single campaign, the foundation plans five initiatives, each raising $5 million over five years, to support the medical center’s advanced centers of medicine.

The first two, for the Sara Lee Center for Women’s Health and the Regional Cancer Center, will begin this year, Smith says, with drives starting next year for the orthopedic, cardiovascular and technology centers.

The foundation also has hired Martha Vance Brown, a veteran of the tourism industry, as manager of development and external affairs.

Brown, president and CEO of the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce for the past three years and former assistant director of sales for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, will develop fundraising and marketing programs for the five centers, and work with them and individual departments and clinics to seek grants.

“The first thing we want to do is get the doctors on board and then go to community leaders and grateful patients,” says Smith, who is set to hire a director of gift planning to handle major gifts and planned giving.

“We’re not going to the whole community or all industries,” he says, “but only those people who would be willing to support a particular center.”

Forsyth Medical Center, a hospital formed in 1963 that now is part of the Novant Health nonprofit system, created the foundation in 1999 after posting its first deficit ever in the wake of federal cuts in Medicare reimbursements.

The foundation raised $7.6 million in 2000, including $5 million from Sara Lee for the Center for Women’s Health, which handles all births in Forsyth County.

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