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Medical Center Foundation wants to make Hall healthier

POSTED: April 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Technician Brandy McArthur leads Charles Terrell of Toccoa through an echocardiogram procedure Tuesday afternoon at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center's W.D. Stribling Heart Clinic. The Medical Center Foundation is seeking proposals for its Healthy Journey III campaign, which will offer funding for community health projects during the next three to five years.

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If you’ve got an idea for improving the health of Hall County residents, the Medical Center Foundation wants to hear from you.

The foundation is seeking grant proposals for its Healthy Journey III campaign, which will raise money for local health initiatives during the next three to five years.

Since 1999, the first two Health Journey campaigns have raised more than $25 million for agencies and programs such as the Health Access Initiative, Good News Clinics, the W.D. Stribling Heart Clinic, the Ronnie Green Heart Center and Safe Kids Gainesville/Hall County.

Campaign chairman Woody Stewart said the foundation’s board of trustees is looking for innovation.

"There are so many needs, and the
competition is stiff," he said. "We don’t usually fund operating needs. We look for specific projects."

In other words, they’re not interested in paying an agency’s salaries or utility bills. But if a nonprofit group needs money to start a new program or expand a clinic, that proposal would receive serious consideration.

Christy Moore, manager of community health improvement for the foundation, said Healthy Journey often fills in the gap for things that are not covered by the United Way of Hall County.

"The United Way does not fund capital projects. We will," she said. "We also assist projects that may need additional support beyond what United Way will provide."

All proposals should involve improving community health, with an emphasis on physical health. The minimum amount that can be requested is $25,000, and there is no upper limit.

Stewart said the selection committee will consider the proposals carefully and will decide this summer which projects have the most merit and can realistically be funded.

"We set funding goals based on how much money we think we can raise," he said.

The foundation gets much of its funding from donations, but also has two major fund-raisers, an annual golf tournament and the Marketplace sale before Christmas.

Stewart said he can’t predict whether the state of the economy will put a damper on donations.

"Raising funds this year might be difficult," he said. "But this is a three-year campaign, and the good times will return."

The criteria for grant proposals this year are based on several recent studies, including the 2007 Healthy Hall Community Assessment, the Hall Count LIFE report, Vision 2030 and Healthy People 2010.

Proposals should be related to one of the following areas: improving access to care, especially for children and low-income adults; reducing disparities that create barriers to care; increasing public knowledge of community resources; strengthening families and targeting at-risk youth; and promoting healthy weight and nutrition, particularly for children.

Nonprofits that receive grants must be able to evaluate their progress and provide reports to the foundation.

To help groups learn how to submit proposals, an information session will be offered at 11 a.m. April 17 at the Medical Center Foundation office, located on the main campus of Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Reservations are required.

The deadline for submitting proposals is May 16.

Stewart noted that the hospital itself is not involved in the selection process.

"Proposals are chosen by the foundation directors, who are all volunteers," he said. "In fact, the hospital itself can apply for funding."

Several capital projects at the medical center have been paid for by donations that were funneled through the foundation. For example, the new North Patient Tower, set to open in early 2009, will include a chapel and a medical library. Neither of those projects would have been possible without private donations.

"The power of philanthropy can’t be overlooked," Stewart said.



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