LMH to consider providing financial support to some area nonprofits

Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Local nonprofits long have looked to the city and the county for grants to help fund their operations. Soon they may have another community organization to look to: Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Hospital leaders opened the door to such a possibility at the Wednesday morning meeting of the LMH Board of Trustees. The board gave staff members approval to begin crafting a policy that would guide how the hospital makes donations to other nonprofit entities.

“Our being involved with a sister organization that has charitable enterprises is perfectly within our mission, but let’s be thoughtful about how we do it,” Russ Johnson, chief executive of LMH, told the board.

The hospital has long provided sponsorships to a variety of nonprofit events — everything from 5K runs to health awareness events. But those sponsorships usually are a few hundred dollars, said Janice Early, vice president of marketing and communications for LMH. More recently, the hospital has been receiving requests for substantial donations from organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, Heartland Health, the Lawrence Arts Center and others, Early said.

Board members agreed to begin crafting a policy that would look at what criteria the hospital would use in providing funding to other nonprofits. Johnson said it makes sense to look at what other nonprofits are doing in the community to improve the health of residents. He said the hospital supporting those types of organizations fits with LMH’s overall goal of improving community health.

“I think this is the right time for us to explore how we do that,” Johnson said.

The board didn’t discuss how large of a financial commitment the hospital may be interested in making to area nonprofits, whether the hospital would make a call for applications or when such a program may begin.

Early said the next step would be for hospital staff members and representatives from the board of trustees to begin crafting a specific policy in the coming weeks.

LMH is a nonprofit entity itself, but the hospital business routinely generates annual revenues that are in excess of hospital expenses by several million dollars.

In other business, board members were told:

• Plans to open a crisis stabilization center as part of the LMH emergency room are progressing. The center is on track to open in January. Karen Shumate, chief operating officer, said the hospital also has agreed to provide office space for a new crisis response team that is part of a pilot project being funded by Douglas County. The hospital will provide office space until more permanent facilities can be found for the team. Shumate said the county hopes to have that team operational by January.

• An expansion of LMH’s clinic in Tonganoxie is scheduled to be completed by mid-September. The expansion will double the amount of space for health providers, and will add space for physical and occupational therapy.