By Paul "Whitey" Willms
In 1988, a charitable organization to be called Friends and Families of Fayette County Hospital and Long Term Care was established.
There was local concern over the future of our hospital and its long-term viability. A large group of citizens packed into the old Vandalia City Hall to discuss what to do. A standing room-only crowd was there to discuss what capital equipment needs for the facility should be addressed.
The meeting agenda quickly changed to include concerns about FCH continuing to remain open. Nationwide, 79 community hospitals had closed the previous year, and the trend was not looking good for small rural healthcare facilities such as Fayette County Hospital.
The group decided to establish a 12 person board and elect officers. Two co-chairman were chosen.
Co-chairman Dr. Stanley Moore said, “It is very important that we save this hospital, for the community as a whole.
“If we lose the hospital, the only one in this county, we not only lose that industry, but we also run the risk of losing other industry.”
The Friends and Families of FCH was formed on April 26, 1988, and co-chairman Otto Cuppy said, “We need this hospital. We need to have the best emergency room, the best ambulance service, the best helicopter service.”
So it began.
The purpose of the Friends & Families of FCH & LTC group was as follows:
• Educate the public as to the services offered by the hospital.
• Emphasize to the public the urgent need to keep the hospital open.
• Alert the public to the rising malpractice costs in Illinois,
• Emphasize the need for Fayette County residents to band together and use and support the hospital.
Specific goals were established for the Friends and Families group:
• Emphasizing the advantages of keeping the hospital viable and growing.
• Seeking citizen support.
• Raising funds for acquisition of capital equipment purchases.
• Promoting recruitment of health care professionals.
Since that time, numerous community individuals have made significant efforts in volunteer time and financial contributions over the years.
Foremost has been the purchase of more than $2 million dollars in capital equipment purchases that have become the property of the hospital district.
As an example, these equipment purchases have been made in the past five years:
• Dexa Scan.
• Renovation of third floor nurses' station.
• Renovation of second floor Oncology Clinic.
• Two blood draw chairs.
• Audio/visual equipment and furniture for community center/conference room.
• 10 low/high beds for long term care.
• Stress testing unit
• Film array equipment
Friends & Families of FCH & LTC is a charitable organization with designated 501(c)(3) status. Contributions are made from memorials honoring individuals through private donations.
Also, FCH employees use payroll deductions to make monthly contributions.
Many local businesses, community civic groups, First National Bank Trust Foundations (e.g. Scarpaci, Ruemmelin, Old Capital and White Family), Lincoln Land Credit Union and Illinois Department of Public Health grants and others have made significant and generous donations on a continuous basis.
There are other groups that provide charitable contributions to FCH & LTC in their respective ways. The Hospital Auxiliary and Families That Care provide volunteer personnel to work the hospital gift shop, mailroom and front desk as well as contributions they receive.
They do a great job and are key volunteers supporting FCH & LTC.
Friends and Families of Fayette County Hospital and Long Term Care is a charitable organization that has made a difference. This unique organization has helped purchase more than $2 million dollars of medical and other specialized capital equipment.
This improves the quality of healthcare for Fayette County residents, as well as other individuals using the hospital facilities.
How can contributions be made?
Personal contributions for “In honor of” or “In memory of” can be made through contacting the hospital directly (administration 283-1232), donation envelopes at area funeral homes or online at the hospital’s website page, under Foundation.
Individuals, who are turning 70½ years of age and have individual retirement accounts (IRA’s) will be required to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s). This means they will have to withdraw annually from those accounts a percentage of their IRA (typically 3-5 percent), or face a financial penalty in addition to normal taxes.
If an individual should chose to donate all or part of his or her annual required distribution money by having it paid directly from their IRA to a tax exempt charity (such as FFFCH & LTC), the amount contributed then is not taxable.
This is a way to save taxes on this contribution even if you are not able to itemize deductions on your tax return. Consult your tax adviser for more information.
Also, when doing estate planning or wills, individuals can designate specific donations to the FFFCH & LTC organization.
Lastly, if you should like to help support FFFCH & LTC, contact the hospital and become a board member.
The hospital has a “Partners in Care” wall in the lobby that recognizes individuals or groups that contribute to FFFCH & LTC at specific levels.
Friends & Families of Fayette Co. Hospital & Long Term Care celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and is proud of all community businesses and individuals that continue to support this organization and ultimately the hospital.
The current project being pursued by the FFFCH board is the acquisition of a cardiac monitoring unit.
This is an ambitious goal, as the unit cost is $300,000. However, with community support, this goal will be achieved over time.
“I speak for the entire board of Friends & Families of Fayette County Hospital & Long Term Care in expressing our sincere thinks for the continued support of the community of our organization and our hospital,” said Lyn Gartke, president of the Friends & Families Board of Directors.
Friends and Families of Fayette County Hospital & Long Term Care officers and board members: president, Lyn Gartke; vice president, vacant; Treasurer, Mary Halford; secretary, Robin Radliff; and board members, Michelle Strack, Robin Starnes, Jay Jolliff, Bunny Brosman and Paul Willms. The Auxiliary representative is Elloise Black.