Huntsville Hospital Foundation executive director Katherine Craine shared some of the challenges of raising millions of dollars for hospital equipment, renovations and education programs – and how the foundation plans to tackle those challenges in 2017-2018 – during a Rotary Club of Huntsville-Lake of Bays meeting on May 25.

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“We want to ensure we are positioned for health care here, and that everyone can support their hospital,” said Craine, who joined the foundation in 2015.
She said she continues to be excited about not only the quality of health care in Huntsville, but also the passion residents, volunteers, hospital staff and physicians have for Huntsville District Memorial Hospital.
As an example, she said, each of the foundation’s 13-member board is a hospital donor.
But she said the foundation has a difficult-to-reach annual stretch fundraising goal of $3 million. Last year, the foundation raised roughly $2 million.
Craine said the past year was difficult for non-profit charities across the country, not just in Huntsville, as hard economic times tightened donors’ purse strings.
As the foundation’s fundraising efforts shift into its new fiscal year, it continues to raise funds toward its commitment to the new CT scan suite at the hospital, as well electronic health record and pharmacy automation transitions. And those items are on top of a growing list of capital needs that include items such as beds and stretchers.
The hospital also funds renovations.
“The hospital is not getting any bigger and we have to work within the space we have,” said Craine.
And those renovations, she said, often include aspects of which the general public may be unaware, such as having to line a procedure room with lead.
Purchases of, or enhancements to, hospital equipment and infrastructure, she said, not only help serve patients better, but also support physician recruitment. Doctors, she said, want to work in a competitive environment and often do not know how to use outdated equipment.
One of the ways the foundation aims to raise funds for these projects is through its now one-year-old Business Cares initiative, which asks businesses to partner with the foundation by donating $25,000 over five years to the hospital. As of May 18, the initiative had 32 business partners.
But one of the toughest challenges, according to Craine, is increasing donations from cottagers and visitors. She noted seasonal residents often give generously to the hospital serving their primary residences, but they sometimes overlook the one serving their secondary residences.
As a result, the foundation plans to launch a new Cottagers Care initiative.
“We can’t criticize our cottagers for not giving, if we don’t ask them,” said Craine.
A new summer ambassador program will also have students visiting summer events to promote the foundation and its goals to seasonal residents and visitors.
Craine encouraged everyone to follow the foundation on social media, including Instagram, and to share their hospital stories with the foundation.
“I hope we don’t see you at the hospital, but if we do, know that you are in good hands,” she added.