EBCH curtails development, fund drive

by Tom Coombe

Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital has pulled the plug on two major initiatives.<BR><BR>Plans for a hospital owned and operated assisted living complex have been shelved, following action by the EBCH board of directors.<BR><BR>Meanwhile, the EBCH Foundation - the fundraising arm of the non-profit organization - has ended an 18-month capital campaign that raised $300,000, just one-third of what was targeted.<BR><BR>The moves come as the hospital board prepares for the annual meeting of hospital shareholder, set for Dec. 6, and mark a decided shift in focus.<BR><BR>Over the last several years, EBCH has pushed toward the development of an assisted living complex. downsizing its nursing home and notifying city officials that the organization would eventually use land located across from the hospital - the current site of the Lincoln Rink -for the complex.<BR><BR>But financial considerations have pushed EBCH out of the ownership picture, hospital administrator John Fossum said last week.<BR><BR>The hospital instead may partner with private developers to move the initiative forward.<BR><BR>“We are still interested in assisted living,” said Fossum. “We want to see it built. We’re not too proud to say we can’t do it, but the community needs it badly. We’re happy to look for ways to make this work.”<BR><BR>Fossum said he has had initial discussions with private developers about an assisted living project.<BR><BR>EBCH could participate by selling or leasing the land where the rink is now located, and by providing medical services.<BR><BR>“That might be our piece,” said Fossum. “And we hope to still connect the buildings.”<BR><BR>Assisted living facilities are being developed around the country as an alternative to more expensive nursing home care. The facilities include private rooms for residents with on-site medical care and assistance, as needed.<BR><BR>EBCH pulls back from its assisted living plans just as its foundation has ended its long-term capital campaign.<BR><BR>“Exceptional Care Without Exception” started with the assistance of a professional fundraiser, and coordinated by a 13-member community steering committee, raised $300,000, which was earmarked toward renovations in the nursing home and funding toward a new information system at the hospital.<BR><BR>“The two biggest pieces of the campaign were the nursing home remodeling and the information system,” said Fossum. “We proceeded down both of those tracks and spend what we raised and then some.”<BR><BR>EBCH aimed to raise further funding for both projects as well as $125,000 to plan the assisted living development.<BR><BR>“Since the two biggest pieces of the pie were done and we were looking at over $100,000 for the assisted living planning, at some point you’ve got to move on,” said Fossum.<BR><BR>Foundation efforts will now be concentrated on the building of an endowment and promoting health care in the community.<BR><BR>In the works is sponsorship of a community forum on methamphetamine use.<BR><BR>