Giving to hospital foundation grows

By Marion Blackburn

GREENVILLE, N.C. — The Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation aims to reach $6 million this year to support the Children’s Hospital, a planned heart hospital, cancer and rehabilitation programs and grants to community health projects.

The goal includes $1.2 million needed to completely fund a planned intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in Greenville for children with fragile immune systems.

The foundation has already raised $4.4 million of the $5.6 million total cost.

Another major project is a fundraising initiative for a planned heart hospital at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

The initiative began in December 2005 and will continue through the year.

The 120-bed center for heart and vascular surgery, rehabilitation and recovery is expected to cost about $170 million and will be built mainly with hospital funding.

“This heart hospital is important for Eastern North Carolina, where heart disease is the single largest cause of death,” says Brenda Joyner, executive director of the foundation. “The foundation hopes to do its part to support this heart hospital by raising as many funds as possible to offset the building costs.”

The foundation, established in 1980 to support the hospital, seeks charitable contributions for operational, capital and endowment purposes.

It helps fund projects, technology purchases and educational programs for the hospital.

The foundation has 11 staff members and assets of $13 million, and serves as the flagship for the University Health Systems Foundation, which supports development at several Eastern North Carolina hospitals.

Last year, the foundation raised $5.7 million, exceeding its goal by $700,000.

The total raised included several milestones:

* Ashley Turner of Garner gave $1 million, the largest individual donation ever to the foundation, to support the children’s intensive-care unit.

* E.R. Lewis Construction Co. gave land, valued at more than $388,500, to be used as the site of the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center to serve uninsured and underinsured patients.

* Bank of America gave $500,000, the foundation’s largest corporate gift ever, to support the planned heart hospital.

* The Children’s Miracle Network raised $1.5 million, earning it a No. 2 ranking nationally among its peers for income per capita raised in a phone campaign.

From these funds, the foundation made 29 grants totaling $933,700 to local nonprofits through its Community Benefits and Health Initiatives program, which brings health care services, programs and education to the community.

The program has distributed $6.4 million through 133 grants since 1998, says Kahla Hall, program coordinator, to “take better health directly to people.”

Because of the changing health care environment, Joyner says, the increase in giving to the foundation will help ensure health care programs and services are available in Eastern North Carolina.

“It’s harder for hospitals to retain a substantial bottom line as technology costs increase,” she says. “The hospital can look to the foundation to help it improve its revenues. As hospitals make less in profit, philanthropy is more important than ever.”

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