While Bothwell Regional Health Center celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, the BRHC Foundation, an important separate entity, is celebrating its 10th year of providing health care support, vital to the surrounding community.
Beginning with a vision of Sedalian Jim Callis a decade ago, the Foundation has funded approximately $5 million in projects that include building the Canon Center for Cancer & Cardiovascular Care, providing 3-D mammography and XperSwing technology for the cardiac cath lab. The XperSwing is a dual axis rotational coronary angiography that takes 80 photos in 5.8 seconds all the way around the heart looking for blockages in the arteries.
“When the board first started, Jim Callis at the time, was a member of the Board of Trustees,” BRHC Foundation and Communication Executive Director Lisa Church said on Wednesday. “He had gone to a meeting of the Missouri Hospital Association and had brought back this booklet on hospital foundations, and how they can help with health care in a community and how they can be a partner to a hospital.”
She added that Callis presented the idea to former BRHC President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Rank, but due to a busy schedule the idea was placed on a back burner. When current hospital President and Chief Executive Officer John Dawes “came on board,” the idea was brought up once again and approved.
“We started back with the previous administrator,” Callis said. “When we did the interview process for the new administrator we talked to candidates about that. Mr. Dawes was one them. So when he came on, that was one of the board’s priorities.”
Callis, was on the BRHC Board of Trustees for 16 years and was a founding board member for the Foundation. He retired at the beginning of the year.
When the Foundation began, he felt physician recruitment was an important need in the community.
“When we started with the Foundation, one of the things we wanted to do, was some things that at that time community hospitals couldn’t do,” he said. “Physician recruitment is extremely important now and was then.”
The Foundation helped with recruitment when it began 1o years ago, but since that time state laws have changed and the hospital presently does all physician recruitment.
During his tenure, he witnessed the growth of the Foundation that exceeded all of his expectations.
“I don’t think any of us had that much of a vision for it,” Callis said. “I’ve never been a visionary, I’m a practical guy that plans everything …”
He added that former Sedalia Mayor Steve Dust told him at the time, “Remember that every decision you make impacts about 90 percent of people in this area. Because sooner or later one of them’s going to have a family member or themselves or a neighbor who has something to do with the hospital.”
Church noted that many people in the community may not be aware of what the Foundation does for the hospital, community and surrounding area.
“The Foundation is a separate 501 C-3,” she said. “So, we are a separate nonprofit corporation … from the hospital. Our mission is to be involved in projects that improve the health care of this community, of this area. So, a lot of times that means assisting the hospital with its priorities, but we have also been involved with some community projects as well, when it relates back to healthcare.”
An early project for the Foundation was to put AEDs (automated external defibrillators) at Convention Hall, at one of the fire departments, and at a few of the area schools.
“Then there was a nutrition and fitness program in the schools that the foundation had helped fund,” Church added. “We do operate separately and we are governed by separate boards of directors.”
Currently the Foundation has 16 members on the board.
“They are all volunteers,” Church noted. “They really represent a good cross section of this area.”
Some members come from Benton County and Pettis County, and a few have been “involved” in health care, while others have experience in legal matters, business, fundraising or farming.
“When you look at the projects we’ve been involved in, they really run the gambit,” Church said. “Some of the more recent ones or higher profile ones would be that the foundation raised $3.4 million to build the Canon Center for cancer and cardiovascular care.”
The most recent project involved donations of $235,000 that went toward the cost of the hospital’s 3-D Mammography.
“What the Foundation is able to do, is to partner with various organizations which raise the level of the outreach,” Callis added. “We are able to do things sooner, quicker and help share the fundraising expertise. The hospital is self-funded, so when something like the Canon Center or the mammography comes up, then the Foundation can step in and add to what the hospital is able to do, and usually speed it up.”
An early partner of the Foundation was the American Heart Association.
“They received a bequest from an estate, a substantial one, to be spent on heart health in Pettis County,” Callis said. “So, we partnered with some heart fairs to acquaint people with what’s available.”
“Some of the things that we do now, is we provide a vehicle for businesses, and really individuals, in the community to support better health care,” Church added. “Before, there really wasn’t much of an avenue for that to take place. Sometimes people think ‘well why would a hospital need charitable contributions, why would they need help in bringing in equipment?’”
Church provided an example: an individual may receive a bill for a MRI scan costing $1,000, but once private insurance kicks in the hospital receives $600; and when Medicare and Medicaid is used the hospital receives $250 to $350 for the service.
“Those private resources are incredibly important in helping us to bring in better programs and better equipment,” she added. “The other side of that coin is medical equipment is incredibly expensive. One of the benefits, that we had one year, raised money for some women’s health projects and that included buying new bassinets for our labor and delivery department.”
The cost for each bassinet was $2,500, while one hospital bed is $10,000 or more.
“We’ve had some incredibly generous folks in the community,” she noted. “There have been so many who have been so supportive and that’s made a huge, huge difference.”
Callis added that Foundation has provided opportunities for families and businesses to set up within the foundation funds for particular healthcare needs.
“Gene and Frances Loveall are very good examples of that,” Church said.
The couple has given donations to start the Gene Loveall Cancer Services Fund and Frances Loveall Stroke Recovery Fund. The cancer fund also provides gasoline cards to cancer patients who have to travel to the Canon Center for treatment.
Church added that the fund has also been helpful for the Foundation to purchase baffled air cushions for cancer patients to set on while they have chemotherapy treatment.
“Those types of donations help us do the things that really help people out,” she said. “In my mind, it’s making a difference in someone’s life when they really, really need it the most.
“Actually, Mr. Callis’s family was responsible for setting up the very first named fund that the Foundation had,” Church added.
The Camye Callis Gaspard Memorial Heart Fund is named for Callis’s daughter who died at 41 with a un-diagnosed heart condition. Through this fund the annual Lub/Dub 5K Run and Walk began seven years ago with less than 100 participants. This year 500 participated in the April event.
Callis added that the fund is often used to train cardiac nurses, and this year a Nustep, a piece of exercise equipment, was purchased for cardiac therapy.
“That all epitomizes exactly what this Foundation is all about,” Church said of Callis and the many donors. “It gives people an opportunity to impact so many other lives.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss