Healthcare Foundation of Natchez Regional Medical Center formed

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eric Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — Kay Ketchings describes the floor plan of Natchez Regional Medical Center’s future ICU waiting room. The waiting room is projected to cost $50,000 to renovate. The money will be raised as the Healthcare Foundation of Natchez Regional’s first project.

NATCHEZ — A few outdated chairs lining the walls of an otherwise empty waiting room are all that welcomes loved ones visiting patients in the Intensive Care Unit at Natchez Regional Medical Center.

But once a newly created nonprofit group — Healthcare Foundation of Natchez Regional Medical Center — reaches its first fundraising goal, the ICU waiting room should cater to the comfort, needs and long hours of visitors.

The new nonprofit’s intent is to serve as the fundraising arm of the hospital, NRMC Chief Executive Officer Bill Heburn said. The money raised will buy new medical technology, enhance existing hospital services, and pay for scholarships to recruit future health professionals.

“Every dollar contributed to the foundation furthers the hospital’s mission of improving the health of our local communities,” Heburn said.

The upgrade of the ICU waiting room, which is projected to cost $50,000, will be the foundation’s first project, said Kay Ketchings, who is the executive director of the foundation as well as NRMC public information officer.

Ketchings said designer Colleen Wilkins has completed a rendering of a revamped ICU waiting room. The rendering includes private areas for families staying for an extended period of time; new lighting, flooring and furniture; an eating area, a laptop-compatible work area; and a flat-screen TV.

“(Visitors) will be much more comfortable,” Ketchings said.

Ketchings said planning for a foundation started last year during celebrations of the hospital’s 50th anniversary.

“We felt like timing was right,” Ketchings said.

Ketchings said the new leadership set up by the restructuring of NRMC is headed on the right track.

“(The foundation) will compliment what we’re dong already,” she said.

Through the foundation, individuals, businesses and organizations can help pay for a 50-year-old building’s “wish list,” such as the ICU waiting room upgrades and new patient rooms, Ketchings said.

Ketchings said many not-for-profit or county-owned hospitals across the county have foundations similar to the Healthcare Foundation of Natchez Regional Medical Center.

“It’s not a new concept by any means,” she said.

Ketchings said it is her hope that the foundation will spread awareness in the community about the services offered at NRMC, which could help keep patients in town.

Scholarships funded by the foundation will help lure prospective physicians to the area as well as provide scholarships for other health professionals, Ketchings said.

For example, the foundation may pay for continuing education for a registered nurse to recieve the nurse training in a specialty area.

The foundation will also focus on maintaining the latest technology at the hospital, Ketchings said.

The foundation also offers flexibility for donors to designate their gift toward a specific piece of equipment, project or a specific unit or area within the hospital, she said.

And since the nonprofit will be funding a public hospital, Ketchings said, the foundation will likely be eligible for grant funding.

The foundation will host its first annual gala Sept. 15 at the Natchez Convention Center.

A program, Memories in Medicine, will be presented and will honor, posthumously, 44 physicians who were an integral part of the medical profession in Natchez and the community.

The black-tie optional gala will include a silent auction and seated dinner. Tickets are $75 a person or $150 a couple. Bronze, silver and gold sponsors can buy ticket packages from $250 to $1,250.

Donors to The Healthcare Foundation of Natchez Regional Medical Center can take advantage of tax benefits as a result of contributing to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“But the ultimate gain is the satisfaction of having made a personal investment in the future of health care for the Miss-Lou Region,” an NRMC press release said.