A $500,000 donation this week pushed the Lawrence Memorial Hospital capital campaign past its $8 million goal.
"We just applaud the generosity of the community. We'll all be the beneficiaries of good health care services for years to come," said Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner and co-chairwoman for the campaign.
The Endowment Association received the contribution Monday from Lawrence residents Jeff and Mary Margaret Morrison.
"I think the hospital really touches everyone in the community from all walks of life. It isn't just serving one type of individual," Jeff Morrison said. "It's a really positive way to impact everyone in Lawrence and in the surrounding area."
The Morrisons joined more than 2,000 people and businesses from Lawrence, Baldwin City, Tonganoxie and Eudora in contributing more than $8.1 million.
"Our guess is that nobody in Lawrence has probably ever done that magnitude of a campaign, with the exception of the university of course," said Beverly Smith Billings, co-chairwoman for the capital campaign and president of the LMH Endowment Association's Board of Directors. "We can't be thankful enough to this community."
The endowment association launched the campaign two years ago, in October 2005, to help fund a $44 million expansion at the hospital. The project includes the expansion of the emergency, surgery and maternity departments and the conversion to all private rooms. Construction began about a year ago and should wrap up in 2009.
"They have already started seeing their money in action, because we finished the new nursing unit with the private rooms, and it's absolutely incredible," said Kathy Clausing, the hospital's chief development officer. "The new emergency department is supposed to open in the spring of 2008, so if they ever have the unfortunate need to come to our emergency room they will have more space, and it will be state-of-the-art."
Praeger co-chaired the campaign with her husband, Dr. Mark Praeger, and Smith Billings. She said private rooms are now essential because of federal requirements on patient privacy and confidentiality.
"Plus, I think people rest better when they're in private rooms, so the care they actually get in the hospital is going to be better," Praeger said.
Praeger said the hospital needed this infusion of capital to take it to "the next level of excellence." She views the successful campaign as a sign that the community recognizes the value of quality health care.
"Having good health care in a community is as important as having good police and fire protection," she said. "It's an essential public service. We've just ensured that essential public service is going to be here for generations to come."