Several years ago a new organization was formed at the Redwood Area Hospital. Through that new entity, known as the Redwood Area Hospital Foundation, donors from the public could provide funds for special projects that would enhance what the hospital could offer for those who receive its care.
The mission of the foundation is to "help the hospital achieve its mission of providing exceptional healthcare" for the area.
Those who make donations can do so to help provide expanded services, upgrade equipment, offer professional healthcare education and/or enhance community health.
That community, said Karen Melges, who serves as director of the hospital foundation, goes well beyond the boundaries of one city, as is reflected in the fact that many of the donations which come in from individuals, organizations and businesses are from a wide variety of area communities.
The 15-member board, added Melges, also reflects community diversity, as members are from places such as Walnut Grove, Luc-an, Wabasso Fairfax and Clements.
The foundation was established to help people who wanted to give to the hospital in honor or in memory of someone, and Melges said those donations made through the foundation are tax deductible.
Over the years, said Melges, more than $1 million has been donated, and she said many of the amenities, such as fetal heart monitors, sleeper chairs in the cancer center and lift systems would not have been possible without the generous donations from the public to the hospital foundation.
"A lot of the funds we receive are undesignated," Melges, said, "which means we can use them for any project. We also do receive designated funds, which means we can only use those funds for specific projects or in certain departments at the hospital."
Donations do not have to be big.
In fact, added Melges, those little donations can truly make a big difference.
“It all adds up,” she said.
The foundation board serves to determine which projects of the hospital are supported with its donations, and there are always things waiting in the wings that could be purchased, upgraded or replaced.
The foundation, Melges explained, helps to fill in the gaps and to provide things that are not specifically budgeted.
A recent example of a hospital project funded with the help of foundation funding was the purchase of a new van for the hospice program.
The hospital’s education room was also upgraded with new communication equipment that allows the staff at the hospital to receive training that can help them better serve patients without ever leaving the hospital.
That video conferencing technology has also brought others to the community from area hospitals to take part in education programs, added Katherine Brozek, Redwood Area Hospital communications manager.
Page 2 of 2 - A giving tree in the hospital’s lobby recognizes those who have donated to the foundation.
Those who have donated at least $5,000 receive a “gold leaf” on the tree, and those who have donated $10,000 or more receive a “stone.”
There are many different ways one can make a donation, either through an endowment, planned giving, long-term securities or gifts of cash.
Melges stressed every gift given to the foundation is very much appreciated.
She said the foundation also works in conjunction with the hospital’s auxiliary and volunteers to help create that atmosphere of care at the hospital.
The foundation also sees the value in investing in the future, as it annually gives out two scholarships to students going into the medical field.
Those who would like to learn more about the hospital foundation can do so by contacting Melges at (507) 637-4668 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More is also available on the hospital’s Web site at www.redwoodareahospital.org.