Philanthropy to play key role in Swedish/Issaquah patient services

July 5, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

From left, Tucker Wehrman, 6, Finley Wehrman, 3, Skylar Shetterly, 8, Connor Shetterly, 12, and Logan Wehrman, 10, sell snacks to benefit the Swedish/Issaquah Pediatric Guild. Contributed

As the lights come on at Swedish/Issaquah and the hospital comes to life, the facility will begin working toward its true purpose: serving patients. However, for the nonprofit Swedish Medical Center, some of the most revered services to be offered in Issaquah will rely on donor and volunteer support.

Swedish has collected more than $900,000 in donations for the Issaquah hospital, and the money collected will fund services within the Swedish Cancer Institute, Women & Children Services — including labor and delivery — and pediatrics. Donations are also used to cover miscellaneous needs throughout the hospital.

“Where philanthropy is going to be really important is supporting aspects of the patient experience,” said Maggie Angle, Swedish director of major gifts. “We call it the margin of excellence. The hospital operates at an excellent level on its own, but when philanthropy comes in, it makes it extraordinary.”

The Cancer Institute — on the ground floor of the facility — is an outpatient clinic. Funds from the campaign will provide patients with access to social workers, an education resource center and other support systems.

Swedish has not yet started accepting gifts for Women & Children Services or its pediatrics unit; Angle said it has not pinpointed funding needs in those areas.

How to help

Donate to the Campaign for Swedish

  • Go to www.campaignforswedish.org and click “Donate.” You can donate to specific services in the hospital or allow Swedish to use the funds where they are needed most.

Volunteer at Swedish/Issaquah

Join the Swedish/Issaquah Pediatric Guild

  • Call Swedish Director of Major Gifts Maggie Angle at 206-386-6770.

However, once donation mechanisms are in place, contributions will fund things such as child life specialists, who work closely with young patients to abate the stress of hospital visits.

Several Issaquah and Sammamish residents also banded together to create the Swedish/Issaquah Pediatric Guild. The guild started by fundraising and spreading the word about services the facility will offer.

“I’m emotionally and passionately connected to the pediatric services at Swedish,” guild member Kristen Wehrman said.

She said her 10-year-old son underwent two surgeries with Swedish doctors, and the unique programs the donations support are what keep the nonprofit a step ahead of its competitors.

“That’s what makes those patients smile and want to come back to Swedish,” she said.

The guild has five members, who will have an informational booth at the July 9 opening celebration. Wehrman said guild members would also volunteer in the hospital this fall.

Volunteer opportunities will start at Swedish/Issaquah with the July 14 grand opening, although opportunities will be more extensive after the second-phase opening in the fall, Volunteer Coordinator Pinky Herrera said. Opportunities this summer will be mostly limited to transporting patients, such as those in wheelchairs.

Swedish Medical Center Foundation Executive Director Don Theophilus said it has been exciting building a donor and volunteer base in Issaquah.

“Fundraising’s important for any facility, but in particular when you are ‘new to the community,’” he said. “You want to engage community members in their new hospital.”

Swedish launched its philanthropic Campaign for Swedish in 2007, setting a goal of raising $100 million to increase services for its patients. It has since raised more than $76 million.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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