Hospital foundation has big plans for Valley View |

Hospital foundation has big plans for Valley View

Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

Valley View Hospital and a group of community leaders have launched a medical foundation to raise money for special health care projects.

The idea is if local residents donate their own money toward each of the foundation’s annual projects, they will feel a sense of ownership in the hospital and its programs.

“If people give, they become vested. This becomes their hospital. It’s where they go for care,” said Valley View chief executive officer Gary Brewer.

The Valley View Hospital Foundation has been in the works since January 2003, and now has a 20-member board of directors, a staff of two and big plans for the future.

The first project foundation leaders hope to fund is a move and expansion of the Valley View Hospital Cancer Center. The goal: $100,000.

At present, the Cancer Center occupies a 1,000-square-foot space on the second floor of the new Valley View Medical Office Building. The plan is to move the center to 3,000 square feet of remodeled space in the medical office building on the east side of the hospital, in the same building as Orthopaedic Associates.

Tripling the size of the center will allow the cancer specialists who come from the University of Colorado Oncology Center to treat more patients and expand the types of treatments offered. The hospital tallied 2,828 cancer-related visits in 2003.

The move is an interim step in a long-range plan aimed at eventually having a free-standing cancer center in Glenwood Springs that can offer radiation therapy and many other treatments.

Frank McSwain, director of the new foundation, said the foundation will first ask members of the “hospital family” to contribute ” Valley View administrators, doctors, nurses, staff and the architects, construction companies and medical equipment suppliers that serve the hospital.

The week of May 1, letters will go out to area residents asking them to contribute as well.

Cancer patient Claudia Baker, 52, of Carbondale said there’s no doubt in her mind this is a worthy cause. At present, she drives to University Hospital in Denver for experimental treatment for her kidney cancer, and to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction for the PET scan that looks for remaining cancer cells in her body.

“It would be so convenient to stay right here,” said Baker, who works as the lead customer service representative at Valley View. She has already used up her vacation time on her illness, but she has to take a full day off work to go to Denver or Grand Junction.

“There’s a hundred different reasons why this oncology center should be first and foremost in everyone’s mind. We all know someone with cancer. Before I came down with cancer, my brother had it, and we had to drive him to Denver, too.

“The benefits are just limitless having an oncology center here in your home town,” Baker said. “I’m real excited. I hope it’s up and running for me to use it.”

McSwain has plenty of other projects for the foundation to pursue.

He’d like to help the Mountain Family Health Center, which treats low-income patients, work more closely with the Catholic Charities dental care program, expand diabetes education, build a heart catheterization lab and a cancer radiation treatment facility.

“I want to do everything,” McSwain said, “but we have to prioritize.”

McSwain and his assistant, Sue Hakanson, will also take on some tasks that have not been coordinated in the past.

The hospital already collects $50,000 to $100,000 a year in gifts from patients and their families, but that money has often gone to different departments.

“With the foundation, any time someone gives money, we can steward those donations, acknowledge the donors and keep them connected to the hospital,” said Mary Steinbrecher, president of the foundation board of directors.

The foundation staff will also seek grants and promote health care services available at Valley View.

Because McSwain’s and Hakanson’s work goes beyond managing the foundation, their salaries are being paid by the hospital itself. Money donated to the foundation will go straight to the projects its board chooses for funding, McSwain said.

Information: Frank McSwain, 384-6620.

Contact Heather McGregor: 945-8515, ext. 517

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