SCMH Cancels 2020 Fundraiser

SMITH CENTER, Kan. – Like many other decisions about gatherings, the fundraising committee at Smith County Memorial Hospital has decided to forego the annual employee-run fundraiser dinner and auction for 2020.

“Our team talked at length about concerns for both public health and recent economic burdens on community businesses,” said Allen Van Driel, CEO of the hospital. “We felt the right thing to do was to cancel the event this year.”

The annual event that typically takes place in October attracts more than 200 attendees and volunteers from around the county and includes a plated dinner and live and silent auctions. In previous years, auction items have been donated from businesses and groups around the county.

Each year, hospital departments apply to the employee fundraising committee for upcoming needs. The committee chooses top priorities and those departments join the committee in planning the event and soliciting donations.

“We’ve been very humbled by giving in the past, especially as we prepared for a new facility,” Van Driel said. “Our hope is that skipping the fundraiser this year will give our patrons time to recover from the various hardships we’ve seen in 2020.”

While 2020 has not been an ideal year for anyone, SCMH continues to be impressed with the community response and support for healthcare.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been optimistic,” Van Driel said. “Our patients are following our lead and we take our responsibility as a source of information and guidance seriously.”

Van Driel and other leaders at SCMH are confident that a new normal is coming and hope to host a fundraiser again next year. Until then, fundraising efforts will be done through other methods.

“We recently published Health Beat magazine and included a story about future needs that we will be fundraising for,” Van Driel said. “Our needs over the next few years will center on equipment and maintenance to the facility. Fundraising efforts will be focused on the equipment that will go out of service first.”

Van Driel keeps a list of all the equipment used at the hospital including dates of purchase and its life expectancy. This list will be the basis for all fundraising priorities as the hospital transitions from a capital campaign model to more ongoing efforts.

Like in many other industries, technology in healthcare is changing rapidly and almost every piece of equipment includes a computer which means tracking both hardware and software changes.

“We want to be forward thinking so that we know what we can afford and be aware of new technologies,” Van Driel said. “Our administration, medical staff and board of trustees are aware of the rising costs of healthcare and want to be good stewards of public funds. No one wants to be surprised by an equipment failure that could have been prevented.”

Van Driel and the board feel the hospital is currently in good shape financially and want to develop a fund that can be used for these updates so they can avoid going to the county to request costly tax increases.

Updating equipment that was brought over from the old facility will be the first priority in 2021. The first purchase will likely be a software update for the pharmaceutical distribution cabinets.

“Our communities have a long-standing history of incredible support,” Van Driel said. “We hope that patrons see the benefit to themselves when they give to the hospital fund.”

Donations for the hospital’s equipment fund may be dropped off at the facility or mailed to the development office at PO Box 349, Smith Center, Kan., 66967.