Our Communities Our Team and Culture

Building Community on Strong Foundations

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

Foundations Image

The fundamental role of any health care institution is to help sick and injured people achieve recovery and get back to their normal lives. But sometimes, even the organizations that provide help require assistance of their own, often in the form of funding for new facilities, equipment, staff or initiatives.

That’s where hospital foundations step in to play a pivotal role — helping raise the capital their beneficiaries need to fulfill their missions. In Northwest Georgia, AdventHealth Gordon has benefitted from the much-needed work of its foundation for decades. And with the recent launch of foundations at both AdventHealth Murray and AdventHealth Redmond, the entire AdventHealth Georgia Market is poised to enhance the viability of not only its health care providers but also the communities those hospitals serve.

“AdventHealth is committed to Northwest Georgia through its foundations and their mindset of philanthropy,” said Jake Hager, foundation director of the AdventHealth Georgia Market. “We’re looking to leverage generational change. The bigger picture is more than just immediate charitable needs; we’re hoping to change health outcomes in our communities for the next 15 to 20 years.”

While capital campaigns to fund on-campus projects have traditionally been the focus of foundation initiatives — and will continue to be so — an additional emphasis is now being placed on the overall health of patients, team members and the communities in which AdventHealth operates.

With the recent addition of its two newest foundations, AdventHealth is centralizing support for its regional foundation work while also empowering its hospital foundation boards to be good local stewards of their resources in addressing issues both on and off campus. This work begins with community health needs assessments.

“Every three years, we plan to conduct community-wide assessments that drill down to the health needs and concerns of each individual market,” Hager explained. “Areas of concern might include cancer, heart disease, access to healthy food or mental health issues. We’ll take a look at each community’s results and determine what that foundation will focus on for the next three years. Then we’ll apply metrics to those investments and find out how we’re moving the needle in changing health outcomes for the better.”

Leading the Way

For more than 30 years, the AdventHealth Gordon Foundation has been instrumental in generating capital for facility improvements and additions, as well as college scholarships for local students as a way to retain talent. Among its notable achievements has been helping raise money to establish the AdventHealth Harris Radiation Therapy Center in Calhoun in 2012. The initiative was led by former board member Helen Jones, who contributed $250,000 to the project after losing her husband, Howard, to cancer.

“Prior to that, local patients requiring radiation had to drive out of town, sometimes five days a week, to receive treatment,” said Garrett Nudd, president of the AdventHealth Gordon Foundation. “We needed those services close to home, and our foundation helped make that happen.”

Other projects in recent years include the creation of a walking trail — the CREATION Life Wellness Walk — on the hospital campus in 2017 and the construction of a serenity garden outside the AdventHealth Gordon Cancer Center.

Wellness Walk

In each of these cases, however, the foundation wasn’t solely responsible for raising all the required funding.

“We typically receive a lot of capital from corporate, but if we start with community members who align with our local administration, we can raise a significant amount of money and community interest and then leverage that for an even larger contribution from corporate,” Nudd said.

As an example, he points to the Edna Owens Breast Center at AdventHealth Gordon, which opened in 2019. A $2.8 million gift from community member George Owens (the center was named in honor of his late wife, Edna) plus $200,000 in proceeds from an employee-giving campaign created enough financial momentum to result in matching contributions from AdventHealth corporate.

Beyond the scope of fundraising, however, the AdventHealth Gordon Foundation has served the Calhoun area in other ways, including acting as a conduit between the hospital and its constituency.

“This foundation is the eyes and ears of the community,” said Mike Davis, chairman of the AdventHealth Gordon Foundation board. “We bridge the gap between the hospital and the community by giving people up-to-date information about what’s going on at the hospital. And it gives our community members serving on the board an opportunity to advise our local medical center as much as they can.”

Edna Owens Breast Center

New Foundations, New Goals

In early September, the boards of directors of the newly established foundations for AdventHealth Murray and AdventHealth Redmond held their first organizational meetings. While both boards are certainly looking to the example set by their colleagues at the AdventHealth Gordon Foundation, its respective members are also approaching their undertakings with fresh eyes.

“Our foundation will allow the hospital to reach outside its walls and serve the community with a strong focus on wholeness and health,” said Ann Hook, an AdventHealth Redmond Foundation board member. “AdventHealth treats patients as whole people, and they’re approaching their work with the community at large in the same way.”

Hook, who served as director of oncology services at Redmond Regional Medical Center for six years before its acquisition by AdventHealth, says she was immediately impressed by the company’s cultural framework.

“I retired from Redmond four years ago. The people there took care of each other, which is a testament to how well they take care of their patients,” said Hook, who works for the city of Rome in its finance department. “Now, AdventHealth is an incredible influence on this culture that already existed. All of us on the board care about leading this mission with Christ, and when you lead a mission that way, it’s for the right reasons. I think we’re lucky to have AdventHealth in Rome.”

AdventHealth Redmond board member Mary Hardin Thornton sees AdventHealth’s CREATION Life wellness plan as a springboard for a wide range of projects the foundation can jump-start to benefit the Rome community. With whole-health principles that include rest, trust, interpersonal relationships and a positive outlook, the CREATION Life philosophy resonated with Thornton.

“There’s not a corporate feeling here. It’s exciting and different,” she said. “AdventHealth is willing to go down this road and see what’s possible. It’s great to work with an organization that’s open to interesting ideas. Getting buy-in and finding a great first project is our priority right now as a board.”

Some of the board’s possible community outreach efforts may include community-impact grants, fundraising for health care career scholarships, mobile checks of patients and indigent care funds.

“Personally, I feel that environmental issues are a priority,” Thornton added. “There are things there that we can share and capitalize on and connect to our health care system. Rome is a great town for that. There are things that will be possible that we haven’t even realized yet.”

Operating under the same vision umbrella as its sister foundations, AdventHealth Murray Foundation board members are likewise hoping to bring about positive changes both for the hospital and the county as a whole. Board member Valerie Pannell believes that much of the foundation’s effectiveness will ultimately stem from the diverse backgrounds of those serving on its board of directors.

“We all have different attributes to contribute, whether that’s based in business, education or fundraising,” said Pannell, who spent 15 years in the advertising and marketing industries before stepping away to work as a stay-at-home mom. “We all see through a different lens in terms of how we can contribute.”

Pannell’s fellow board member Craig Brock says he is excited about the fundraising opportunities that lie ahead, particularly with AdventHealth’s community-focused mission at the core of all its foundations’ efforts.

“As someone who lives in Chatsworth, I feel our hospital is in a very good position under AdventHealth,” Brock said. “They’re committed to our community and finding ways to bring excellent health care to the area. It’s a positive in a sometimes-negative world.”

As an example, he points to a recent initiative through which AdventHealth distributed some 20,000 pink light bulbs throughout Northwest Georgia in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal was for the bulbs to serve as reminders of the importance of getting regular breast cancer screenings.

“It was a great initiative, to be on the preventive side of health care instead of just the reactive side,” Brock added.

Jake Hager Quote

Recent News

View More Articles