Johnston Memorial raising $3.8 million

Todd Cohen

SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Hospice patients in Johnston County in 2004 received a total of nearly 26,000 days of care, up from just over 8,000 in 2001, state data show, while the number of patients who died while in hospice care grew to 221 in 2004 from 120 in 2001.

To meet rising demand for hospice care in the rapidly-growing county, which already has roughly 160,000 residents, the Johnston Memorial Hospital Foundation has begun the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise $3.8 million for what will be the county’s first in-patient and residential hospice facility.

Opened in 1951, Johnston Memorial Hospital in Smithfield houses 175 beds and is the county’s only hospital and for nearly 15 years has provided hospice services in their homes to terminally-ill patients in the county.

The new facility, to be located on a nearby eight-acre site the hospital purchased from the city and that served as Brigham Park, will total 12,458 square feet and house eight private in-patient beds and four private residential beds.

The facility, designed by architect William Robert Wakeham of Cary, also will feature community and family areas.

With Capital Development Services in Raleigh serving as campaign counsel, the campaign already has received several large gifts, says Hector Perez, the foundation’s executive director.

Those gifts include $100,000 from Novo Nordisk, which employs 400 people at a plant in Clayton; $300,000 from the federal government; and $200,000 in commitments and pledges from staff, administrators and members of the boards of the hospital and its foundation.

Perez says the campaign, in addition to raising money for the new hospice center, will help the foundation increase its annual fundraising and gear up for a campaign to build its endowment.

Formed in 1992, the foundation raises about $50,000 a year, mainly from a pool of 1,000 donors, including physicians, county residents, individuals the hospital has served, local businesses, and members of the boards of the hospital and foundation.

The foundation uses funds it raises to support health care at the hospital and in the county.

Foundation funds, for example, purchased a nurse-call system that lets physicians, nurses and patients talk to one another in the hospital’s cancer center; cardiac-rehabilitation equipment for HealthQuest, a wellness program the hospital provides to staff members and the community; and audio-visual equipment for the Johnston Medical Mall and Conference Center, located in a former spinning mill across the street from the hospital.

Now, by raising awareness about the hospital and its needs, and about the foundation and the role it plays in raising money to address health-care needs, the foundation hopes to expand its base of donors, and generate larger gifts from existing donors, Perez says.

“We’re going to be able to transition individuals who have supported us through the capital campaign into the annual campaign as well,” says Perez, who joined the foundation in January as its first executive director after serving as executive director at El Centro Latino in Carrboro, associate director for finance and development at Interact in Raleigh, and director of development for The Spring of Tampa Bay in Florida, the largest domestic-violence agency in the Southeast.

Once the capital campaign ends, he says, the foundation likely will begin gearing up for a multi-million-dollar endowment campaign.

“Our goal,” he says, “is to create a culture of giving.”

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