Memorial launches fundraising drive to help support hospital upgrade

Memorial launches fundraising drive to help support hospital upgrade

March 14th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Memorial Hospital will add a new 7-story cardiac patient tower and a new entrance as part of its $318 million upgrade underway.

Nurses Diana Morrison, left, Nubia Ancheta, center, and Rhonda Poulson read brochures about Memorial Hospital before the start of a press conference Wednesday to talk about a $318 million dollar expansion project.

Nurses Diana Morrison, left, Nubia Ancheta, center, and...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Memorial Hospital is launching a $15 million fundraising campaign today to help support the biggest upgrade in its 60-year history.

Memorial officials announced today that $8 million has been pledged from private donors to the hospital so far to help match more than $300 million being pumped into Memorial by its owner, the Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives.

"This is a transformational health care opportunity in Chattanooga," said Zan Guerry, the chief executive of Chattem Inc. and chairman of the Hamico Foundation, which is pledging several million dollars to Memorial. "Raising this $15 million will allow some special things to be added to what Memorial is already doing and really helps make Chattanooga a better community."

Memorial began a $318 million, four-year plan last year to expand and renovate both its Glenwood and Hixson facilities. Memorial is building 580,000 square feet of new buildings, including expanded operating rooms, a 7-story cardiac bed tower, expanded intensive care units, and a state-of-the-art Hybrid Operating Suite, among other improvements. The hospital improvements also include a new children's learning center, a new chapel and new patient rooms and operating facilities at both campuses.

"We've continued to grow at Memorial and we're trying to make certain we have the patient environments that are most effective and efficient for providing very high-level, tertiary care," Memorial President James Hobson said. "We need a 2012 physical plant to help deliver 2012 medical services."

Memorial initially planned to undergo a massive rebuild of its Glenwood campus in 2008. But those plans were delayed for nearly three years "when the recession hit and the whole world sort of turned on its axis," Hobson said.

The current plan was revamped and now also includes upgrades at North Park Hospital in Hixson, which Memorial bought in 1998.

Guerry and Dr. Bill Stacy, who have worked on fundraising campaigns for UTC and Baylor in the past, are co-chairs of Memorial's biggest capital campaign ever announced today. Stacy said he is encouraged by both the clinical and faith-based commitment of Memorial, the 405-bed hospital which the Sisters of Charity of Nazaereth initially built in Glenwood in 1951.

"Catholic Health Initiatives (the successor owner of Memorial) is making a huge capital infusion in our community and we have a chance with this fundraising effort to add another layer of excellence to this plan," Stacy said. "It's almost like pulling up a turnip and replanting a turnip all at the same time. We've had 60 years of great service from Memorial and now we have a chance to rebuilt and shoot for another 60 years."

The Memorial Foundation, the fundraising arm of the hospital, said gifts from Mitch and Deborah Everhart are supporting The Heart Center and gifts from Davenport family and from the Lehman family at the bequest of Marguarite Lehman are supporting the new Joseph H. and Alice E. Davenport Outpatient Infusion Center.

Memorial officials said the capital campaign is now reaching out for gifts from all Chattanoogans.

"This is an opportunity for every person to be a part of the historic transformation at Memorial, a project that will improve care for generations to come," said Jennifer Nicely, president of the Memorial Health Care System Foundation.

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