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CEO Neal Jensen. Photo by LCGross

Cobre Valley Foundation serves hospital mission and improves patient experience

The Cobre Valley Foundation is a local non-profit organization that helps provide equipment and amenities at Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center that align with the mission of the hospital. According to Fernando Shipley—who serves on both the foundation’s board and the hospital’s governing board—“These are items that improve the overall experience for the patient.”
An example of something the foundation funded for the hospital is a device called a vein finder. When it’s difficult for a nurse to find a vein in order to administer an IV or take a blood sample, the nurse might have to try several times in different places. But with a vein finder, the nurse can instantly scan the patient’s arm and see a map of the blood vessels. Now the nurse can go straight to a vein, with only one poke.
Shipley explains, “The foundation can take a look at a piece of equipment and say, ‘this will enhance the interactions between the patient and the care giver; it’s about developing relationships, not just about making money; it’s about community. It’s about caring about the people that are here under our care. So even though it doesn’t make us a dime, it’s still worthwhile and the right thing to do.”
Another example is the 160-slice CT scanner that the foundation funded in 2010. It was the first 160-slice CT scanner to be purchased by a hospital in Arizona. Ellen Kretsch, Chair of the CV Foundation, says, “It was as good as any equipment you would find in the Valley. … It was much better than what most rural hospitals would have.” The state-of-the-art CT scanner allows patients to be scanned faster, in more comfort, and with an up to 80 percent reduction in radiation exposure over less sophisticated scanners.
The Foundation has also provided many other pieces of equipment and amenities at the hospital, including an oximeter—which allows blood oxygen levels to be measured without blood samples being taken—and a “Chester Chest,” a model of a human torso used for training nurses. The Foundation has furnished birthing rooms, purchased TVs for waiting rooms, laptop computers for education, and collaborated with the hospital auxiliary to build the Serenity Garden.

Ellen Kretch. Photo by LCGross

As Kretsch explains, the Foundation seeks to provide resources that enhance patients’ and families’ experience at the hospital. “No, you don’t need to have a serenity garden,” Kretsch says, giving an example, “but it’s a good place for family members who are having a hard time.”
Kretsch says the foundation works closely with CVRMC to determine what purchases to make. “We’re listening to the hospital board, to the hospital staff when they’re saying, ‘This is what we need to better serve our patients and to better fulfill our mission,’” Kretsch explains. “So we work very closely, especially with the hospital board because they set direction for the hospital.”
The foundation also works to improve public perceptions of the hospital and inform the public about resources available at CVRMC. Foundation board member Ian Lamont, of Lamont Mortuary, says, “It’s kind of notorious for all hospitals that everybody wants to complain when things don’t go right, but they really don’t want to say a whole lot when things have gone well. So that’s been probably one of the biggest challenges we have.” And Kretsch points out, “We still have a lot to do” in terms of “making people aware of what’s here locally so they don’t necessarily have to go to Phoenix for treatment or to find a doctor.”
Although the Foundation does have large donors, its funds come mostly from small donations from individuals. Lamont points out, “Everyone’s contributions makes a difference, the big as well as the small.” He says fund raising is “continuously a challenge.” Perhaps the most successful fund-raising effort comes each fall when the Foundation hosts its annual art and wine auction. The planning begins eight months in advance and involves volunteers from the Foundation, the hospital, and the community, including art students from Miami and Globe High Schools, who help with decorations. Local individuals and organizations sponsor the event with financial and in-kind donations, and their names will be displayed during the event. Around 40 local artists donate work to be auctioned, and individuals and businesses also donate items to be raffled off. Between 350 and 400 people attend, and the event raises upwards of $40,000 or more for the hospital. It’s the foundation’s largest source of funds every year.

Fernando Shipley. Photo by LCGross

Kretsch says the auction also raises awareness of what the foundation does. “People know if they buy a ticket to the event, the money might be going to a new X-ray machine or a computer for the X-ray technician to work with,” she says.
For people who would like to support the foundation’s activities, there are many ways they can do so. They can make monetary donations, participate in the art and wine auction, pledge an annual gift, or donate a piece of property. Donors can specify how their gifts will be used. They can also choose to contribute to the foundation’s permanent fund, which provides an ongoing source of funds.
Another way to give—one that can provide financial benefits to the donor, as well—is to make a bequest in the form of an irrevocable gift. Shipley explains that this involves making a gift of property, such as a house, with the stipulation that the owner continues to have use of the property until their death. The owner can take the tax deduction on the gift immediately, but can still live in the house for the rest of their life.
Shipley notes that the foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and donations are tax deductible. The foundation’s board members are all volunteers.
Evelyn Vargas, CVRMC’s Public Relations Director and also a member of the foundation’s board, notes that the foundation is preparing a strategic plan for philanthropy. Vargas says this will provide an opportunity for “those people that really believe in our mission and our vision for the hospital in regards to the health and wellness of our community … to donate financially or in-kind to the hospital, and their name will be up on an upcoming ‘giving wall.’ It’s just a different way of connecting to the mission and vision of the hospital other than fund raising. It’s more an emotional connection; a belief in the direction we are going and what we’re doing for the communities we serve.”

Ian Lamont and Evelyn Vargas at the 2014 Art and Wine Auction.

“It’s not just about raising money,” Shipley says. “Doing things together, having an opportunity for people to come together is very valuable.” He points out that instead of holding the art and wine auction, the foundation could simply ask for donations. “We could just ask for checks, make more money, and do less work.” To that notion he says, “No. Because you’re missing the point. The point is to bring everybody together to make sure we continue to care about each other, to see that we’re in this together, to create a spirit of unity.”
This year’s art and wine auction will be held at the county fairgrounds on the evening of October 28 with the theme of “Once Upon a Time.” For more information, call Ellen Kretsch at (928) 425-4495.

***This article was published in the “We Are Healthcare” special produced by GMT in the summer of 2016 in recognition of the Grand Opening of the hospital’s new 67,000 sq ft addition.

About Patricia Sanders

Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She currently lives on Santa Maria island in the Azores.

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