Built in 1994 to accommodate 35,000 emergency patients each year, the Augusta Health Emergency Department now sees over 62,000 patients each year. That’s one new patient about every eight minutes.
The ED has received high marks from patients when it comes to quality of care and outcomes, but increasing capacity has put a strain on the department. Even the advent of urgent care in the community has failed to take the pressure off the ED, and without adequate resources, expansion would be impossible.
The Augusta Health board of directors approved construction of a new ED in June 2016 with a budget set at $22 million. Hospital reserves will provide $20 million, and $2 million will be secured by the Augusta Health Foundation.
More than funding
“Some people might wonder: Why is the Foundation only raising $2 million for this critical project?” says Foundation Director Tami Radecke. “But this is about more than funding for this critical project.
“Philanthropy has played an integral role in ensuring long-term viability and sustainability for hospitals across the United States. As changes continue to occur in the healthcare industry — among them decreased reimbursements, an increase in charity care for the indigent, high-deductible health plans and the soaring cost of technology — Augusta Health will be challenged to remain strong, independent and community-owned. Philanthropic support no longer will be a ‘nice to have,’ but a ‘need to have’ for Augusta Health’s long-term viablity.”
The Foundation started operations in 2014, and this will be its first major campaign, she notes. Under the name Moments Matter, the campaign provides an opportunity for Augusta Health to develop long-term relationships with residents of this community and provide opportunities for grateful patients to support this effort.
Phase by phase
Led by Jim Perkins, PhD, retired president of Blue Ridge Community College, the Moments Matter campaign began with an assessment phase to determine whether it was feasible to raise the $2 million.
When it was determined that it was an appropriate goal for the Foundation, the planning phase began in November, explains Foundation Philanthropy Manager Sherri Heishman. This part of the campaign involves educating the community about the project, including developing materials like brochures and a video that explains the need for a new ED and the exciting changes that will come as a result. In March, the Foundation launched the quiet phase of the campaign. The goal during this stage, which occurs prior to the campaign’s rollout, is to raise at least 50–75 percent of what’s needed before the final phase, in which gifts are sought from the community-at-large through general appeals, Heishman says.
“There’s no other hospital project that engages the entire community the way an Emergency Department does,” Radecke notes. “You want to know that if something happens to you — accident, stroke, chest pain, whatever it might be — that you’re close to an ED that will take good care of you. We have that at Augusta Health, and now it will be even better, thanks to changes that expand our capabilities.”