Editor's Note: It's been a year since Northern Michigan Regional Hospital merged with a Flint-based health system to become McLaren Northern Michigan. We decided to check in with Moon Seagren, executive director of the Hospital's foundation, to see how the non-profit arm of the health care system is faring, and what-- if any-- differences donors see in the mission, vision, or fundraising as McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital Foundation.
Have there been any changes for the Hospital Foundation since the McLaren merger?
The only change is the name. We continue to have our own Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, License to Solicit, and Federal Tax ID. We are a Nonprofit Type II Organization and our main mission is to acquire, manage and dispense funds on behalf of the nonprofit McLaren Northern Michigan entity and the patients they serve. The Foundation Board, which also has remained the same and is comprised of both seasonal and permanent residents, consists of 19 members who oversee and have fiduciary responsibility for the management and dispensing of funds. The Foundation Board executive committee also serves as the governance and nominating committee.
What do you want people to know about where donations made to McLaren Northern Michigan are used?
First and foremost, a donation is used precisely as requested by the donor, and donations made to this Foundation will stay in northern Michigan. The Foundation is committed to and diligent about tracking and reporting how donations have been used, or as we refer to it, "disbursed." Quarterly, we produce a report that indicates how donors' dollars have been disbursed and the impact of these gifts. The disbursement report is divided into main categories (such as Programs, Major Equipment, Patient/Colleague Assistance, Facilities/IT, Education). It lists very specifically the fund, how much was disbursed, the receiving department or program, how the funds were used, and the impact on our patients. For example, in the first quarter of 2013, under Major Equipment: the Cardiac Cath Lab Equipment Fund disbursed $144,900 to purchase the Atrial Fibrillation Equipment and Ablation Mapping System and Monitors. In its first weeks of operation, 24 patients benefitted from the new equipment. We could tell you exactly which donors to thank for their contributions that allowed us to purchase this advanced technology to diagnose and treat our patients.
Second, all donations raised on behalf of McLaren Northern Michigan patients stay here and do not go to Flint. When we say "here," it is important to note that our Foundation raises money on behalf of several McLaren Northern Michigan affiliates serving northern Michigan. These include the VitalCare entities (Adult Day Center, Hospice of Little Traverse Bay, Hospice of the Straits, and Hospice of the Sunrise Shore), Boulder Park Terrace, and the Community Free Clinic, as well as McLaren Northern Michigan-Cheboygan Campus. If a donor wants his or her gift to benefit Hospice of the Sunrise Shore, located in Alpena, that is exactly where their donation will be spent to meet patients' needs. In the same way, if a donor wishes to only contribute to the Petoskey hospital facility, his or her dollars will be designated for that purpose and only used for the Petoskey Campus.
Do you have any capital projects on the horizon?
Currently we are raising funds for a renovated surgical suite that will accommodate advanced life saving procedures for our Heart and Vascular patients. This project is approximately $3.6 million. We are also in the first phase of conducting a facility assessment to either renovate or build a new hospital. While it will be some time before we are disbursing dollars toward this effort, several donors already have set up their own restricted funds in anticipation of this large campaign. Doing so allows them to build up their contribution over time, in some cases for the possibility of a naming opportunity. This is a great example of how we really work with donors to match their passion for giving with either current or future needs.
How is fundraising going? Donations up, down, steady? Any trends?
We have seen a decrease in donations, in terms of total funds raised and number of donors giving. When partnerships take place, such as between McLaren Health Care and the former Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, it is common to see an initial downward trend in giving. Understandably, some donors are watching and waiting to be absolutely sure that the place they know and love remains. To them I wish to say, please be assured that the high quality care you experienced before has continued unabated.
For the patient coming through our doors, virtually nothing seems changed, or if so, it's for the better. Joining a larger health system has allowed us to reduce costs, improve processes, share expertise, and implement a carefully-devised strategy for long-term sustainability.
A decline in donations, however brief, means that some needs won't be met. I am happy to speak with anyone who has questions about donating and look forward to the opportunity to share how even small amounts can make a significant difference in the lives of our patients.
As the changes in health care continue to arrive, and charity care continues to grow, what role is the Foundation playing in maintaining health care in northern Michigan?
The McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation strives to fulfill the unmet needs of the organization, enabling continued advancement in health care services for the 22 counties we serve. As our hospital faces decreases in reimbursement, increases in charity care, escalating costs to maintain and upgrade technology, and the financial realities of the "new economy," you will continue to see our Foundation raise funds for new equipment, facilities updates, new programs, research, etc.
One area with increasing needs is the Adult Patient Assistance Fund. This fund helps adult patients who require, but cannot afford, a costly medication, piece of minor medical equipment (e.g., walker), or simply the gas to drive to an appointment or procedure. Over the past year we have seen a significant rise in requests to this fund. The Adult Patient Assistance Fund is almost depleted and we are seeking to raise $105,000 by September 30th. While each patient's situation is unique, many are working but have been impacted by businesses shifting from full-time to part-time employees, benefits being offered at higher rates with greater deductibles and co-payments, or losing insurance coverage all together. The Adult Patient Assistance Fund is critical for this patient population.
What are the biggest challenges the foundation is currently facing? How about goals/successes?
The biggest challenge the Foundation currently faces is the decrease in donations. However brief, such losses have a direct impact on the ability to continue funding health care programs, facility updates, the purchase of new equipment, research, patient assistance, Hospice programs, Cheboygan and Petoskey emergency department initiatives, the Free Clinic Diabetes Program, and more.
Equally challenging, and I believe directly linked to a decrease in donations, is getting the word out that:
McLaren Health Care (corporate), McLaren Northern Michigan, all other McLaren subsidiary hospitals, and McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation are all nonprofit organizations.
The money that is raised here, stays here, to assist all the patients we care for in our 22 county service area.
We are a leader in health care quality and safety. Consumer's Report named our hospital one of the top ten safest hospitals in the nation, and the safest hospital in Michigan.
We need your charitable support. Partnering with McLaren has not changed that need in any way.
Goals and Successes
Each year, our Foundation identifies fundraising priorities and goals. In 2013, the fundraising goal for the McLaren Northern Michigan Petoskey Campus is $5,413,000 by September 30.
Our greatest success, attributable to our generous donors, is that over the past six years we have disbursed nearly $36 million to purchase equipment, support clinical programs, provide patient assistance, and renovate or build new buildings, such as the John and Marnie Demmer Wellness Pavilion and Dialysis Center. These funds have impacted over 300,000 patient visits.
Why is running a hospital foundation a more positive experience in this area than it might be in many other parts of the country?
There are many elements that make fundraising for McLaren Northern Michigan a great joy for me and the other staff. Most of all would be the gracious, caring, dedicated people who give so generously to the Foundation. Whether they are the first or fifth generation to be here, our donors' love for the beauty and character of northern Michigan extends to making sure the best possible health care is available to all who need it.
Our health system is often referred to as an anomaly because a small, remote, rural area such as ours would not normally be able to support the depth and breadth of specialty services offered here. Our donors have truly built this place. It is a great honor and privilege to work with these wonderful people to continue the legacy of offering exceptional health care to our northern Michigan communities.