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Christmas comes early: Hospital gets Foundation check

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

Early in April, the Enumclaw Community Hospital Foundation wrote a check to the hospital it supports, allowing for the purchase of 11 of the 18 items outlined to improve patient care.

For hospital staff, it was like Christmas coming early.

"We've had a need for it. We made a request for it, and the foundation has been very generous," ECH administrator Dennis Popp said.

At the foundation's annual Holiday Fantasy fund raiser in December, patient care needs for the next three years were outlined and tagged with a $469,505 price tag.

"We want people to see where their donations are going," said foundation president Steve Moergeli, making reference to the foundation's annual fund-raising events and to community members who give all year around. "The money they are giving out there is buying equipment for the hospital. This takes a big dent out of the list."

For the foundation it was the most successful Holiday Fantasy fund raiser in its history, bringing in $103,000. Of that sum, $22,800 was generated on the spot in cash donations to purchase a respirator as its fund-an-item.

Earlier in the year, the hospital received a grant from the George Garnero Jr. estate. Together, the fund raiser and the donation will more than cover the $191,000 needed to purchase an oxygen compressor, a 12-lead EKG and upgrades for its Passport (both which have to do with measuring a patient's heart beat and rhythms), an invasive pressure module, an insufflator, a Sterrad unit, a gamma probe, an uterine aspirator, an Abbott axsym and a prevacuum steam sterilizer.

Chief Nurse Officer Jeannie Matthews said these items are not necessarily urgently needed, but help the hospital respond to patient needs and emergencies faster and more efficiently.

"They've (the foundation) taken care of some very serious needs," Matthews said.

Visitors and patients to the hospital may not notice the equipment when they see it, but Matthews said it's there working for them.

For example, the Holiday Fantasy fund-an-item this year purchased a respirator for the emergency room and intensive care unit. Matthews said the respirator provides artificial ventilation for patients when their lungs are too tired to breathe. ECH had a 20-year-old model that was recently retired. Matthews said the hospital had been renting one as needed, but with the recent Severe Acute Repiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, respirators became a coveted item. The competition to rent them in King and Pierce county became more limited. And, she added, it's good to have two, one as a backup.

Matthews said Enumclaw is not preparing for a SARS outbreak, but it is a trigger for the hospital to take note and be better prepared by owning its own in case of emergency.

Another item on the list was an invasive pressure module which measures the pressure inside an artery. This single device will allow certain patients in critical condition to stay at ECH, near family, longer, rather than be transferred to a different facility.

The purchase of an insufflator and uterine aspirator will help with gynecological surgery. The Sterrad unit and prevacuum steam sterilizer will keep surgical equipment clean. The Abbott axsym allows the hospital to perform more laboratory tests on site.

Items remaining on the list that are still being reviewed include an upgrade for the Lifepak defibrillation unit, a ligasure vessel sealing system, a colonascope and gastroscope and a water decontamination unit.

Better patient care or new services is what it's all about, Matthews said.

She said each year staff goes through a formal process where a list of purchases are outlined and prioritized with those two topics in mind.

Moergeli said the foundation is chipping away at the list. He anticipates as items are crossed off and purchased, new items will be added.

The foundation has raised more than $1.8 million during the past 12 years.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com

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