Hospital campaign tops $36M
$42M goal is near; fundraising season is now
The Martha's Vineyard Hospital's capital campaign to raise $42 million to build a new hospital has reached the $36 million mark. That figure and a strong first quarter hospital performance, although offset by losses at Windemere, was some of the news delivered at a meeting of the hospital board Friday.
But having come so far, hospital leaders have no time to rest on their laurels. The summer fund-raising season is on the wane, $6 million is no small sum, and the hospital has promised not to borrow money in order to reach the needed amount.
"It is getting tantalizingly close," said Tim Sweet, chairman of the hospital's capital campaign, who added that the next several weeks would be important. The reality of fund-raising on the Vineyard is that much of the effort occurs over the 60-day period during July and August when it is focused on seasonal residents who have the means to contribute and who recognize the need for a first-class medical facility.
At the same time, the campaign directed at year-round residents has generated more than $2 million, Mr. Sweet said, and that appeal will continue. With the hospital about to begin the Martha's Vineyard Commission's (MVC) permitting process, the confidence those donations represent is important. "It is not just having people reach in their pocket," said Mr. Sweet. "But it is having them believe in the hospital."
Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, said the report that there is $6 million to go was good news, but he acknowledged, "That last part is the hardest to go."
At the hospital board meeting that preceded the capital campaign meeting, Mr. Walsh had some other good financial news. He reported that for the first quarter of the hospital's financial year, which began on April 1 and ended June 30, the hospital made $483,000, more than double the $157,000 gain projected in the operating budget. Mr. Walsh said the better than expected performance was based on higher volumes, particularly in June, and good cost control in relation to those volumes.
The financial news was more sobering for the Windemere side of the hospital operation. The Island's only nursing home, which began its fiscal year on January 1, lost $65,000, year to date, against a projected loss of $3,000.
Mr. Walsh said the loss was attributable to several factors. The nursing home had to take two beds out of service while it worked to rearrange the building layout in order to meet state nursing home requirements, he said, and those two beds account for $120,000 in income.
Physical plant problems, most notably the loss of the building air conditioning unit, have also been costly. The need to rent a compressor took $11,000 a month out of the operating budget, said Mr. Walsh.
Mr. Walsh said the two beds would soon be back in service. He remains optimistic about recouping some of the losses.
MVC process begins
The hospital's deteriorating physical plant and the need for a new facility is expected to take center stage when the hospital begins the MVC process. So far the meetings have been mostly exploratory and preliminary.
Mr. Sweet said hospital leaders have had several good working sessions with members of the MVC staff in anticipation of the first MVC public hearing, now scheduled for August 24. He said hospital leaders are hopeful and confident the MVC commissioners will see the merits of the plan that will be presented.
Hospital leaders have said repeatedly that any delays could drive up projected construction costs and be fatal to the current plan. Mr. Sweet said, "It is so important that we be able to stay on our schedule which was hopefully that we would be beginning construction by the end of this year."
That start date is also contingent on raising the remaining $6 million. "We have two large obstacles," he said. "One is to finish the permitting process and the second is to finish the fund raising. We have committed that we would not start this project until we have raised the full $42 million."
New board members
Also on Friday the hospital board elected two new trustees, Dr. Judith M. Davenport of Oak Bluffs and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Edward "Tip" Kenyon of Chilmark.
Ms. Davenport is a retired dentist with a long list of civic commitments and public honors. She received a Masters of Public Health and a D.M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University. She and her husband, Ron Davenport, have summered on the Vineyard since 1975.
Mr. Kenyon, a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School, practiced law at Bourne, Noll and Kenyon in Summit, New Jersey, until his retirement as a senior partner. He and his wife Kit, a retired pediatric nurse practitioner, moved to the Vineyard year-round in 1997.
He is a well-known member of the Chilmark community where he has served on a number of town and Island boards, including the Chilmark planning board, the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust and the hospital's development committee.
"Together Judy and Tip bring vast experience in both health care and corporate leadership that will be a great asset to the hospital." said John Ferguson, chairman of the hospital board.