Hospital foundation expands into community health

Asante Ashland Community Hospital was founded 115 years ago. Drew Fleming photo
January 14, 2022

Focus shifts to staying well in the first place

Ashland: Where We Are — Ashland Asante Community Hospital

Ashland Community Hospital Foundation was established in 1977 to support the work of the then 70-year-old hospital. The foundation, which is a standalone organization, continues its work forty-five years later. The hospital is now into its ninth year of ownership by Asante, a 6,000-employee organization with hospitals in Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass serving 600,000 people in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth interviewed foundation Executive Director Janet Troy earlier this week to get an update on how their work is going. The interview has been lightly edited for length.

Janet Troy

Q: How long have you been with Ashland Community Hospital Foundation as executive director?

A: I have been the Executive Director for Ashland Community Hospital Foundation since June 2009, when I moved to Ashland to accept the position. I had previously worked with Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation in Cincinnati, where I gained my deep appreciation for how philanthropy can change lives. 

Q: Will there be a 45th anniversary celebration this year (of the foundation’s founding)?

A: We will celebrate our 45th anniversary in April. We hope to commemorate this milestone with an in-person event, COVID permitting. If that’s not an option, we will find other creative ways to show our appreciation for the generous donors who have supported our mission over the years.

Q: Can you share the vision and goals of the foundation as it stands right now?

A: Our vision is to lead philanthropic efforts to advance innovative and equitable approaches to community health and wellness. We want to partner with individuals and organizations who are interested in building a healthy community in Ashland, Talent, and Phoenix.

The primary focus of our work is to generate and invest resources to support hospital and community-based health and wellness initiatives and scholarships for nursing students who intend to work in the Rogue Valley after graduation.

Q: What does the Foundation want to accomplish in 2022? And in the next five to 10 years?

A: I expect 2022 to be an exciting year for Ashland Community Hospital Foundation.

For a bit of context, health care continues to evolve from its traditional model of hospital-centric care to one that includes community-based health and wellness programs and services. There is a shift in focus from primarily “sick-care” to increased emphasis on prevention and wellness. The increased focus on the health outcomes of a population/community, along with a better understanding of the social determinants of health, is changing how and where care is provided.

This paradigm shift means our foundation must evolve as well. We are moving from the traditional hospital-based model of fundraising to a broader community health model for philanthropy. Our expanded mission will allow us to continue to support Asante Ashland Community Hospital (AACH) and also support community-based health and wellness services that can help so many of the residents in our area. In many cases, these programs can benefit the hospital too, by reducing the number of unnecessary emergency department visits and readmissions so resources can be used more effectively.

We launched our expanded community grants program this month. We look forward to awarding grants in April to local nonprofits who are creating or expanding access to services and programs promoting health and wellness in Ashland, Talent and Phoenix.

Over the next five to 10 years, we want to strengthen our impact on the overall health of our community. We are committed to building strong relationships and innovative partnerships with our supporters, nonprofit organizations, local businesses and institutions, and the community-at-large to expand resources and promote health equity.

It will be important to honor our history and traditions while remaining nimble and creative in the face of constant change. We will continue to offer the community ways to support health and wellness through our Patrons Campaign and Lights for Life. We will also be expanding the number of ways interested donors can make an investment in the health of our community.

Q: What is the annual budget for the Foundation? Where do these funds go? How does the hospital benefit?

A: Recently, we’ve been receiving an average of $600,000 in contributions each year. AACH has been granted the majority of these funds, followed by nursing scholarships. This fluctuates depending on the projects we are supporting at AACH in a given year. Going forward, donations will also help fund community health and wellness grants when donors chose to direct their gifts for that purpose.

One of the goals in our new strategic plan is to increase our fundraising efforts so we have even more resources to support hospital and community-based health initiatives and nursing scholarships.

Q: What makes the Ashland Community Hospital unique?

A: After working inside the hospital for 11 years, I can say from experience that the people who work at the hospital make it unique and special. I have personally benefitted from their highly skilled and compassionate care and have had countless community members share how exceptional the hospital staff and physicians were when they needed care for themselves or their families.

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted donations to the foundation? Have scholarship funds been impacted?

A: Fortunately, we have not seen a decrease in donations due to Covid-19 and actually saw an increase in contributions for AACH in 2020 due to the availability of new resources to address the pandemic. Contributions for scholarships have increased as well and I believe this is due, in part, to the new awareness and appreciation most people have for the nurses who have provided excellent care under unbelievable circumstances during the pandemic.

Q: If I asked you where the foundation is at right now, financially, what would you say?

A: The foundation is financially strong and stable. Thanks to the careful oversight and decision-making of our board of directors and staff over the years, we have sufficient income to fund our operations. This is important to us because we can guarantee that 100% of the charitable contributions we receive are used for the programs and services meaningful to donors and not for foundation operations.

Q: Looking back at the last five years, what has been accomplished?

A: We’ve experienced big changes and accomplished quite a bit over the past five years. The most significant and impactful changes occurred in the last two years. Here are just a few of our recent accomplishments:

2021:

  • Reimagined our future as a community-focused foundation and approved a comprehensive strategic plan to guide our work through 2024.
  • Developed our community grant program that we launched in January 2022.
  • Awarded a $169,683 in scholarships through the William G and Ruth T Evans Endowed Nursing Scholarship — a new annual record.

2020:

  • Relocated our office from AACH to 123 Clear Creek Drive, Suite 101 in Ashland. This followed a change in our relationship with Asante when the system decided to discontinue its financial support for our foundation at AACH and move to a single foundation model.

2019:

  • Secured grants to expand the school nurse program of AACH to all K–12 schools in Ashland, Talent and Phoenix.
  • Hosted an Innovation Symposium featuring local and national leaders in health care innovation to explore the future of the industry.

Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you wanted to include?

A: Our foundation is fortunate to have a small, yet dedicated, staff. We have three employees with Stephanie Roland and Kathleen Mackris rounding out our team. Together, we have more than 36 years of combined tenure with the foundation. We also have a volunteer board of directors with 13 members who oversee our operations and serve as ambassadors in the community.

Email Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Update, Friday, Jan. 14: This article has been amended to clarify that the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation is a standalone organization, not part of Asante, and that Asante is in its ninth, not 10th, year of Ashland hospital ownership.

From left, Kathleen Mackris, Stephanie Roland and Janet Troy of the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation. ACHF photo

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.


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