Hospital Foundation Seeks To Stabilize Fluctuations

    ZEELAND — A recently formed foundation seeks to provide a stable source of financial support for Zeeland Community Hospital’s community outreach initiatives.

    The goal of the Zeeland Community Hospital Foundation is to build up an endowment of $15 million to $20 million to provide support for services, programs and capital needs that are now subject to yearly fluctuations in the hospital’s finances.

    “It’s a sign of being fiscally responsible,” foundation Executive Director Robert Dean said. “It just makes good, practical sense.”

    Services such as health education and screenings and charity care to those unable to afford it are the foundation’s primary beneficiaries. The foundation will also head up grant-writing and periodic fund-raising drives on behalf of the hospital to support outreach programs, as well as help to acquire and upgrade costly high-tech medical equipment.

    The foundation’s aim is to help Zeeland Community Hospital better fulfill its overall mission “to improve the health of the community” by providing the financial support needed to expand health education and screenings in the community that are not directly supported through reimbursement payments received from health insurers, Dean said.

    “There are a lot of areas where the hospital is seeking to grow,” he said. “So we’re going to partner with the community to help find support for them.”

    Among the early successes for the Zeeland Community Hospital Foundation is the $29,000 raised in May through a golf tournament. The foundation gave $24,000 to Learn for Life!, a collaboration with local schools to teach healthy lifestyles, and $5,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holland.

    The foundation also is planning to submit a $9,000 grant application to the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation to support smoking cessation classes, Dean said.

    The logic behind the formation of the Zeeland Community Hospital Foundation is the same as that followed by Holland Community Hospital when it formed a foundation in 1999.

    Through the separate, nonprofit Holland Community Hospital Foundation, the hospital’s outreach efforts are no longer subject to the kind of financial swings as they were before, Executive Director Cindy Visscher said.

    The foundation enabled the hospital to better coordinate and evaluate programs, such as having nurses work at area schools, ultimately making them more efficient and effective, helping to stabilize costs and allowing the hospital to do more with what it has, Visscher said.

    Evaluating the outcome of outreach efforts is the Holland foundation’s primary focus for this year, Visscher said.

    “Programmatically, things are just getting stronger and stronger,” Visscher said. “We’re trying to expand our capacity by looking at our program models and trying to get more efficient outcomes from them and maintain financial stability.”

    In Zeeland, Dean is still working to formulate the hospital foundation’s business plan and gear up for the future.

    A veteran of nonprofit administration who previously worked five years as the president of Grand Rapids-based Easter Seals of Michigan, Dean joined Zeeland Community Hospital in early December to create the new foundation.

    Through the foundation, the hospital also can create a greater awareness and appreciation of its outreach services among residents, organizations and businesses, Dean said.

    “The community will learn what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” he said. “It’s only fitting to go to the community that shares in these benefits to help make it happen.”

    The Zeeland Community Hospital Foundation for now operates as an arm of the hospital with an advisory committee. The plan is to eventually incorporate the foundation as a separate, nonprofit organization, Dean said.           

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