Be The Good: Talking Philanthropy with Laurie Kelley

I’ve long held the idea that whenever I have the opportunity to choose to do good, I do it. Okay, I realize that isn’t exactly a novel idea. After all, wouldn’t all choose that? So, I guess what we’re really talking about are new ideas for impactful ways to do good, starting with healthcare. To make my point I’ve enlisted the help of an expert. Today we’ll be talking philanthropy with Laurie Kelly, President & Chief Philanthropy Officer, Providence Foundations of Oregon Chair and the  Providence St. Joseph Health Philanthropy Executive Council.

Laurie was able to help me understand what philanthropy in the healthcare field looks like. Sometimes it is community outreach for mental health programs, other times it’s about matching funding to programs in need – think things like cancer research.

Even working in the medical arena, I was unaware that groups like the Providence Foundation existed and did so much. Let’s let Laurie tell us just how much.

Not all medical centers have an arm that addresses community need through philanthropy, why has Providence chosen to?

Philanthropy has been a part of Providence’s history since the very beginning when the Sisters would go on their “begging tours” to build new schools and hospitals.  Over the years, philanthropy has been the lynchpin that moves Providence from being a very good place for care to being an excellent place for care. Philanthropy is the secret sauce that makes such a difference in funding programs for the poor and vulnerable, for furthering research, for establishing new programs, creating new spaces for patients, sometimes even entirely new buildings, and funding many positions.  With reimbursements declining and margins eroding, we will rely even more on philanthropy to provide funding for things that cannot be covered by patient revenue. We always try to match the funding need with a donor’s passion. We also realize that everyone who wants to be involved with us has different levels of resources. We value every gift.

How does the foundation work?

Oregon has 10 foundations representing our eight hospitals, a nursing center and our children’s programs (which has expanded from a foundation serving the Providence Child Center for Medically Fragile Children.)  Each foundation has an executive director and is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization with a board of directors. We work with leaders at each of the organizations to identify programs that need additional funding support.  Then we determine whether that request might appeal to a pool of donors. Every year, the foundations return tens of millions of dollars back to the ministries in our region.

What types of needs are met through the foundation’s work? Can you share a story or two about those who have been helped through the efforts of Providence?

There are so many examples.  This year, there was a need to expand behavioral health for adolescents.  The project appealed to several donors and was able to be funded. The research within our world-renowned Providence Cancer Institute is 70% funded by donors.  Simply put, without donors, we would not have a cancer research institute. The Providence Heart Institute has risen to all new levels of care, hired new doctors, established may new programs including CARDS, (the Center for Cardiovascular Analytics Research & Data Science) and additionally, we have beautiful new space for our caregivers and, more importantly, our patients and families.  There are literally thousands of things happening annually at Providence Oregon because of the generosity of our community.

How can the public get involved in the mission of the foundation?

Check out our website www.providencefoundations.org  See if there are ministries, programs or impact areas that are of interest to you.  Volunteer to work at one of our events, attend one of our fundraisers, contact our executive directors and see if there are openings on our boards, let us know if there is a grateful patient or family you know who might want to make a gift to recognize the care they received and spread the word about the positive work made possible by the generosity of others, and if it fits in your budget, make a gift to an area that matters to you.

With so much need out there, how does the foundation prioritize its efforts?

We work with our regional administrative and clinical leaders to identify priorities for funding.  In addition through our Community Health Division, Providence hospitals conduct Community Health Needs Assessments every few years to identify the top prioritized needs in our communities. Most often these needs include social determinates of health such as food insecurity or housing, as well as behavioral health needs, substance use and also access to health care. The CHNA is an important tool to guide all Providence programs, partnerships and investments across the organization according to greatest community need.

I’ve spent time volunteering in a NICU. How do your Specialty Pediatric clinics differ or mirror something like that?

While we do not have a children’s hospital, we care for more children than anyone in the state.  Twenty percent of all babies born in Oregon are born at a Providence Hospital. We offer a wide range of services for children with developmental issues, as well we offer many pediatric psychiatric services.  The Children’s Developmental Clinic and Swindells Clinic are much-needed services in our community. Many of these needed services requiring philanthropic support continue to exist because reimbursements do not cover their full costs and generous donors keep these services going.

How do the uninsured or underinsured go about exploring the services offered at your facilities?   

While the foundation is unable to help patients pay for our services, you can call or visit a financial counselor or billing office at your local Providence facility. We can give you any forms you need and can help you apply for assistance. Patients can also apply at any time while receiving treatment and anytime during the billing process. If possible, patients are strongly encouraged to ask for financial help before receiving medical treatment.

If someone wanted to learn more about the Providence Foundations, both how they can help or avail themselves of the services provided, how should they do that? If someone isn’t in an area that the Foundation serves, is there a standard way to find out if medical centers in their communities have philanthropic arms like Providence? 

You can research a lot of our work on our website, www.providencefoundations.org or contact members of our team.  Nearly every foundation connected with a hospital has a website, that would be a way to discover more about any foundations in your service area.  

I’d like to thank Laurie for taking the time to share how the foundation she heads up finds these impactful ways to do good.  She is one busy lady as the mom of four, grandmother of wins, and occasional author for Working Mother and LinkedIn.  

photo courtesy of Providence Foundation

 

This story was written as part of a paid partnership with Providence St. Joseph Health. I was honored to get a few minutes of Laurie’s time in order to help illustrate how philanthropy can have an impact on health care as well as in our communities. If you’d like to know more about the Providence Foundation, feel free to visit their website or follow them Facebook.

 

 

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