UCHealth pledges $20 million to advance health in Northwest Colorado | SteamboatToday.com

UCHealth pledges $20 million to advance health in Northwest Colorado

Grants will go to non-profits in Routt, Moffat counties that align with community goals

UCHealth, which joined into a partnership with the Yampa Valley Medical Center in 2017, has pledged $20 million dollars to help fund grants to nonprofits in Routt and Moffatt counties that help with the advancement of health in Northwest Colorado.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A recent $20 million pledge from UCHealth to the Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation will be used to support the advancement of health in Northwest Colorado by providing grants to nonprofits in Routt and Moffat counties.

“The intent of the funds, and how we are distributing them, is truly to focus on the advancement of health in our communities that we serve,” said Soniya Fidler, president of UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Funds will be allocated to priority areas that the hospital decides annually, with the hope that it allows other organizations to improve and advance health in ways that align with the hospital’s goals, according to Fidler.

The pledge comes as part of the partnership established with Yampa Valley Medical Center in 2017, which had included a total pledge of $105 million from UCHealth for the Steamboat Springs community and the Yampa Valley Medical Center. The $20 million, to be paid over a seven-year period beginning in 2017 and ending in 2024, will be allocated to the new Community Health Benefit Fund.

UCHealth has already paid $11.6 million into the fund. Those existing funds will be split equally to present annual grants for health advancement — which includes the already pledged $150,000 donation to local school districts for mental health care that is being made in partnership with the Craig Scheckman Family Foundation — and for special initiatives to benefit program services and capital projects within or related to the medical center’s operations and activities.

The hospital recently used part of those funds to make a $1 million donation to the Old Town Hot Springs expansion.

To oversee the distribution of interest and dividends each year, a committee has been established that includes four board members from the Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation, three trustees from the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and two at-large community members.

“It will be a substantial amount of money, so we have set the committee up to respond to grant request of less than $20,000 or up to $100,000,” said Mark Fitzgerald, foundation board member and chairman of the committee. “We want to make sure that we are reviewing these applications in detail and responsibly. For the higher requests, we are going to require much more stringent review.”

The benefit fund is considered a quasi-endowment fund, which would allow access to the principal when appropriate for worthwhile community needs. Officials said, however, that would be unlikely.

“A lot of people imagined that would be the case; that the $20 million would come in and go out and that would be the end of it,” Fitzgerald said.

Instead, he said, more good could be done by giving a longer-term gift, so “we set up the quasi-endowment, so that we could continue to do this year after year, and the fund could live on even beyond our tenures.”

Grant applications will be accepted between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2020, reviewed through April 2020 and awarded in May 2020.

Needs will be determined using a Community Health Needs Assessment, a survey that asks for community feedback about what the most pressing health issues are in the community, according to Fitzgerald. Other considerations will include the hospital’s strategic initiatives, input from hospital staff. Grant requests will be reviewed equally, and all applications should align with the areas identified as having the most impact for the people served by the hospital, he said.

“We’re anticipating a good response from the community, and we are grateful to UCHealth for the opportunity to help our communities focus on health,” Fitzgerald said.

The committee is working to establish an online grant application and approval process. Additional information will be shared with the communities in October ahead of the application window that opens in January. Funding priorities are expected from the hospital in October or November.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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