Honoring a legacy

August 20, 2015

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It’s early yet on this sunny June morning. The heat is just starting to build. A car drives slowly onto the Harmony Campus driveway which parallels East Harmony Road. Out of the car emerges the guest of honor, Betty Stromberger. She walks hesitantly up to the stone marker newly placed in the grass near a grove of trees. The marker reads:

Site of the Historic Stromberger Farm

With gratitude to Elmer and Betty Stromberger

for their generosity and dedication to the health of our community

Betty shakes her head and says, “I can’t believe this moment. It’s like a dream.” Her daughter, Elaine Hopkins, takes her arm and together they approach the stone. There are tears in both their eyes. They express sadness that Elmer is not here for this moment. Another car drives up and parks. Out of it comes Bob Everitt. He is here to enjoy this moment, for this recognition has been on Bob’s To-Do list for a long time.

Bob Everitt and Betty Stromberger

Bob Everitt and Betty Stromberger

It began with a phone call from the foundation office in late December 2014 to Bob and Joyce Everitt. They had given a gift in honor of Elmer and Betty Stromberger and a staff member was curious as to who these people were. Bob explained that in early 1992, John Laurie, the CEO of Poudre Valley Hospital, reached out to Bob, the owner of the Everitt Companies, to help the Poudre Valley Hospital District identify land for the expansion of Poudre Valley Hospital in south Fort Collins. Among the parcels that they were interested in was a 51 acre parcel that Elmer and Betty Stromberger owned on the southeast corner of Harmony Road and Timberline Road.  John asked Bob to contact the Strombergers to see if they would be interested in selling their 51 acres to the hospital district. Both Elmer and Betty expressed how much it would mean to them to be able to do this because they felt that Dr. Gary Luckasen, a cardiologist, and the Poudre Valley Hospital cardiac team, had saved Elmer’s life through heart surgery.  Moreover, it was PVH’s cardiac rehabilitation program, directed by Dr. Luckasen, that had extended his quality of life. The Strombergers sold the 51 acres to the hospital district in August of 1992 for what Bob felt was a very reasonable price, influenced by their great gratitude for the care Elmer received. “An interesting dynamic that arose from this has been watching all the other developments  grow around that area, much because of the hospital being on that strategic corner,” comments Bob. “For years I have felt that the Strombergers should be recognized for what they did.”

On this sunny June morning, Betty smiles up at Bob. “Elmer didn’t want a gas station on this corner of Harmony and Timberline roads. He didn’t want a shopping center or a grocery store. He wanted to do something that would improve the community. Because Dr. Luckasen had saved his life, he wanted to do something that would be far more meaningful. But he never would have thought, and neither would have I, that there would be this stone marker placed here for us today. Thank you, Bob.”

Make a difference in your community – join WISH!

August 19, 2015

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Women Investing in Strategies for Health (WISH) is inviting Northern Colorado residents to help them in their 2016 efforts to create a healthier Larimer County by becoming a member. WISH membership gifts of $500 magnify individual gifts to create community-wide impact; involve members as they affect positive change in community health; and bring women (and men) together in support of local, health-based needs. One hundred percent of annual membership gifts are awarded to selected applicants thanks to the group’s partnership with the PVH and MCR Foundation.

“I joined WISH because it brings together women who are bound by the desire to move the dial on health-related initiatives in our community,” explained Donna Reiser, WISH member.  “It’s very satisfying to be part of WISH and see the impact we’ve had as a group in just a few years. We are all very different women, but through collective giving we are able to make a significant difference towards a common goal. As our circle of giving grows, so will the positive impact on our community.”

Working with the foundation, the group was started with 68 charter members in 2013 to educate, empower and inspire women philanthropists by supporting health needs in Larimer County. By its second year, the group had grown to 83 members.

The organization provides members the opportunity to pool their funds, learn about county-wide health needs and, through an annual review and voting process, collectively decide how their money will be utilized in support of local programs, projects and services provided by University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), including services provided in partnership with community organizations. WISH has provided over $65,000 in grants in just the last two award cycles, including:

  • car seat distribution and education
  • registration for BStrongBft, a running program for 5th and 6th grade girls
  • childcare to help encourage whole family participation in cardiovascular family intervention
  • music therapy
  • electric breast pumps
  • Healthy Hearts Club screenings and education
  • prenatal substance abuse prevention campaign
  • programming to increase bicycling in under-represented communities
  • Living Well and Enhance Wellness classes for adults over age 50
  • increased summer physical activity levels through Fit Families on the Move program
  • professional Tanita Body Composition Analyzer
  • assembly and distribution of an organizational binder for patients diagnosed with cancer
  • prenatal and postpartum education for at-risk, low-income families
  • implementation of STAR (Survivorship Training and Rehab), a national program to achieve better outcomes in cancer patients.

Those who join by September 1, 2016 will be invited to participate in the next award process.

Those interested in joining WISH for the 2016 giving cycle can do so online at supportinghealth.org/wish or by contacting JoAnn Herkenhoff (joann.herkenhoff@uchealth.org) at 970.237.7403.  We ask that commitments be made by September 1 so that we know how many grant dollars will be available for this cycle.

Welcome, Kristi Benningsdorf and Brandon Tompkins!

July 15, 2015

The PVH and MCR Foundation is proud to announce the addition of two new board members: Kristi Benningsdorf and Brandon Tompkins, both of Fort Collins.

Kristi Benningsdorf and Brandon Tompkins

Kristi Benningsdorf and Brandon Tompkins

“Kristi and Brandon bring a fresh perspective to the foundation board,” said Mike Dellenbach, board chairman. “We are excited to get their input on ways to engage more of our community in the foundation’s health and wellness efforts.”

Benningsdorf, a long-time northern Colorado resident, is involved in a number of other community organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, the Colorado State University (CSU) College of Business Roundtable and is a member of the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce. She is also the past president and secretary for the Windsor Rotary Club, former cabinet chair for the United Way of Weld County and served on the board of directors for the Windsor Chamber of Commerce. Currently, she works in the financial services industry where she is president of First Western Trust of northern Colorado. Benningsdorf is married with two children and enjoys hobbies including golf, bike riding and scrapbooking.

“What really made my decision [to join the board] easy was the people and their passions about the various research, education, and community involvement as it relates to healthcare.  The Cancer Center along with Oncology research carries a soft spot in my heart,” Benningsdorf says.

Tompkins, a lifetime Fort Collins resident, is a broker/associate with RE/MAX Alliance. He has a background in banking and worked as a commercial lender for over 10 years before launching a career in real estate. In the community, Tompkins has been an active member of Realities for Children since 2008. He is married with two children and enjoys family time, golfing, photography and CSU sporting events.

“I would like to expand my generation’s involvement with the foundation,” Tompkins explains. “Fort Collins is blessed to have a tremendous legacy of generous citizens and I want to help ensure this legacy continues with my generation and on with my children’s generation.”

The full roster of the PVH and MCR Foundation Board includes: Chair, Mike Dellenbach (Dellenbach Motors), Mark Driscoll (First National Bank), Jay Hardy (Brinkman Partners), Dr. Robert Marschke, Yvonne Myers (Columbine Health Systems), Miki Roth (The Group Loveland), Mike Sanders (Great Western Bank) and Kevin Unger (Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies).

Employee scholarships advance health care in our community

June 18, 2015
Donna Poduska, Chief Nursing Officer at PVH with scholarship recipient Duane Rorie,  AirLink's Chief Flight Nurse and Clinical Care Supervisor

Donna Poduska, Chief Nursing Officer at PVH with scholarship recipient Duane Rorie, AirLink’s Chief Flight Nurse and Clinical Care Supervisor

Who are the UCHealth Game Changers? They are the hundreds of amazing doctors, nurses, clinical, administrative, and support staff who work tirelessly to deliver world-class service to northern Colorado. And for nearly 25 years the PVH and MCR Foundation, through the support of our community and employees, has been helping dedicated and high-performing employees further their knowledge and build capacity for leadership by promoting academic excellence.

Our employee scholarship program is designed to keep UCHealth on the cutting edge of advancements in health care. While changing technology and increasing specialization are yielding better patient outcomes they are also placing incredible new demands on health workers.  Standards of care are more complex than ever, driving our health system to educate hundreds of staff members about the newest findings in evidence-based medicine.  Regular retraining is vital because medical knowledge and skills are rapidly-evolving with increased research and application of best practices.

And that’s where the foundation comes in – our employee scholarship fund, made possible by private donations, foundation event proceeds and ongoing peer support through recurring gifts, awards funds each year to support employees seeking to further their education. And it’s not just for clinical employees – scholarships are awarded across the system, from information technology to compliance and administration, and for everything from continuing education and certifications to the doctorate level. These scholarships are presented as an additional funding source over and above the tuition reimbursement and professional development opportunities offered by UCHealth. Our hospitals are dedicated to this important training and the foundation is pleased to be able to provide this additional avenue of support for some of our most dedicated employees.

On Tuesday, May 19th we celebrated this year’s employee scholarship recipients with a reception at Medical Center of the Rockies. Our 33 scholarship recipients received over $38,000 in awards and represented a wide range of disciplines. Guests at the reception had the opportunity to hear from a very unique scholarship recipient. Ruthie Weyant, RN has been in the nursing profession for 29 years and currently works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In 2005, while a single parent to two young boys, Ruthie decided to pursue her dream of obtaining a Master’s Degree in Nursing. She took advantage of the tuition reimbursement offered through UCHealth and also received foundation scholarships four of the five years it took to attain her Master’s degree. While that feat is impressive enough on its own, what Ruthie has done since receiving her degree is even more inspiring: “I was so grateful for the assistance and appreciated those believing in me throughout the five years. I took my motto learned from my mother of ‘I can do anything I put my mind to’ and combined it with a comparative & competitive edge of ‘If I can do it, you can do it!’ and created my own CanDo scholarship.” By initiating and funding her own scholarship, Ruthie is truly paying it forward. “It becomes a win-win situation; someone receives money to help with educational goals (win!) and I get the satisfaction of giving back to the profession and saying ‘If I can do it, so can you!’ (win!)”

Ruthie’s story is a wonderful example of the spirit of excellence that UCHealth seeks to foster among its employees, which translates into a world-class patient experience. We at the PVH and MCR Foundation are inspired each year by the scholarship applications we receive. If you are an employee and are interested in applying, look for applications to become available in late January. They are generally due back to the foundation in mid-March with dispensations announced in late April. If you are interested in donating to the scholarship funds please contact JoAnn Herkenhoff at joann.herkenhoff@uchealth.org or 970.237.7403

Ruthie Weyant addresses the crowd at the scholarship reception event.

Ruthie Weyant addresses the crowd at the scholarship reception event.

PVH and MCR Foundation Launches Brick Campaign: Take Home a Piece of History to Support the Future

May 18, 2015

PVH A artwork for blog post

The PVH and MCR Foundation has launched a new initiative to benefit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) fund at Poudre Valley Hospital. The NICU fund offers resources to families receiving care in the NICU, providing assistance with hotel, food, and other unexpected expenses that parents may encounter when a newborn is staying at PVH.

Those who give to the fund at certain levels will be offered a piece of Fort Collins’ history. A limited number of bricks from the demolition of the A Building on the PVH campus will be made available by the foundation. Part of the original hospital built in 1925, the A Building will be razed on May 26 to make room for a new two-story building that will house an emergency department, orthopaedic wing, laboratory and a helicopter pad on the roof for quick transport of trauma patients.

“We saw the brick campaign as an opportunity to connect the hospital’s past with its future,” explained Erica Siemers, senior director of the PVH and MCR Foundation. “The original, 90 year-old hospital is where a lot of Fort Collins residents entered the world – including our hospitals’ own President and CEO Kevin Unger. We wanted to give people an opportunity to own a piece of PVH history while supporting the future of some of the most vulnerable members of our community whose first days and weeks of life are a struggle.”

The funds collected by the campaign will provide much needed support to families during the difficult time when a newborn is receiving care in the NICU. For parents like Emily and Corry Petersen, whose twins Nora and Lily were delivered prematurely and spent 102 days in the NICU, the fund means more than just the financial assistance it offers – it will help to make a stressful time more bearable.

“For families like ours, who spend the days, weeks, and months of that sacred newborn baby time in the NICU, joy can be fleeting,” said Emily. “It doesn’t take much, but giving families the opportunity to create joyous memories and spend as much time as possible with their newborn – even while at the NICU – is one of the greatest gifts one could ever give.”

The historical bricks in recognition of gifts to the NICU fund are available at the following levels while supplies last:

  • $1,000 – These bricks may be personalized with the name of the donor (up to three lines). Donors may keep the brick or allow the brick to be featured as part of the walking path at the Gardens at PVH.
  • $250 – These bricks cannot be personalized, but will be stamped with the PVH mark and the inscription, “PVH since 1925.”

Those interested in learning more about supporting the fund and securing a piece of Fort Collins past and future should contact Rebecca Bowen at (970) 237-7400 or rebecca.bowen@uchealth.org to make a gift and reserve a brick today.

PVH A Old

Susan G. Komen Colorado awards funds for treatment in northern Colorado

April 21, 2015

komen_logoReceiving a breast cancer diagnosis is harrowing for any patient, but not knowing how or if you’ll be able to pay for treatment adds tremendous stress to an already difficult time. Thankfully, UCHealth has a dedicated team of staff working to help patients in this exact situation, and with funding provided by Susan G. Komen® Colorado we have ways to make treatment a reality for anyone who qualifies.

The Susan G. Komen® Foundation is the global leader in the fight against breast cancer. Since it was founded in 1982 Komen has invested more than $1.9 billion dollars in research, treatment, and prevention. The Colorado Affiliate of Susan G. Komen has provided funding to UCHealth hospitals in the north for more than seven straight years. Funding that can bridge the critical gap for under and uninsured patients who would otherwise have to turn down the care that could save their lives.

Uninsured and underinsured patients often work paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the means to cover co-pays, prescriptions, or treatment not covered by whatever insurance they do have. Perhaps they have a very high deductible plan and aren’t able to pay the out of pocket costs. Whatever their situation, our patients are able to meet free of charge with an oncology social worker who will assess their insurance coverage and estimate out of pocket costs. When the social worker finds gaps in their coverage that the patient won’t be able to bridge, that’s when our Komen Colorado grant funding comes in.

The grant funding we have been awarded is available to cover treatment costs for patients who might otherwise choose not to proceed with treatment. The social worker uses the Komen Colorado funding as a last resort option so access to this funding becomes the difference between being able to fight your cancer with world-class care and having to simply resign yourself to the disease.

Komen funding made all the difference for a recent patient. This 63-year-old, single, registered nurse had already battled breast cancer back in 2003. That four year fight drained most of her resources so when she learned that the cancer had returned she nearly felt like giving up, especially when surgeries and treatments began interfering with her ability to work. She was able to receive co-pay assistance through the Komen funding and continued her care. The access to financial support went beyond just reducing a barrier to the treatment she needed. It enabled her to stay in treatment while eventually resuming a work life when she was able.

We at the PVH and MCR Foundation never want the potential of financial burden to stand in the way of access to care and treatment. That is why we are so thankful for our longstanding partnership with Susan G. Komen® Colorado. We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded $44,814 for the 2015-2016 year and with this funding will be able to continue changing outcomes for our patients right here in northern Colorado.

Volunteers embody the spirit of giving at PVH and MCR

April 15, 2015

volunteer handsWe all know that volunteers make a tremendous impact. They give of their time and their talent without compensation to provide critical services. But did you know that our volunteers at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies do so much more?

We are lucky to have hundreds of wonderful volunteers at PVH and MCR. They’re the smiling faces helping to direct guests and patients, working behind the counter in the gift shops, and performing countless other tasks. These volunteers not only donate their valuable time, they also raise funds to support the hospital system. Volunteer groups at both hospitals raise money through the operation of their respective gift shops as well as with a variety of seasonal sales. The PVH Volunteer Association also runs the PVH Thrift Shop as an additional source of revenue. The money raised through these ventures is held for them by the foundation and then allocated by each group’s volunteer leadership board. The goal of both volunteer programs is to put funds back into the hospital system and provide for unmet needs.

Departments and entities within the hospital system can submit requests for funding to each volunteer board.  It could be a request for a new piece of equipment that doesn’t fit into the departmental budget, like the $26,000 infant hearing screening machine recently purchased by the MCR volunteers; or for a service to help improve the patient experience, like a cell-phone charging station in the emergency room. The request is then evaluated by the volunteer leadership board and funds are allocated out of their account as they see fit.

In 2014 alone the two volunteer groups gave out a total of nearly $350,000 to fund projects and equipment that expand and improve our quality of care.  And while the MCR program is still relatively new and growing compared to the 50+ years of volunteer giving at PVH, they have yet to turn down a funding request from within their hospital.

A recent funding request was granted by the PVH Volunteer Association to purchase a state-of-the-art Optimum UV disinfecting system, which sterilizes patient rooms using UV-ray technology. The original funding request was for just one of these expensive machines but when the volunteer board learned about the equipment’s capacity to sterilize much more efficiently than standard cleaning procedures they purchased two! Having this level of sterilization capability within our hospital system, especially during the recent Ebola scare, is just one example of how we are able to bring world class healthcare right here to northern Colorado.

It isn’t hard to see why we are so proud of our volunteers at PVH and MCR. They are an extraordinary group of individuals who are making a difference in the lives of patients, families, and their fellow community-members. And you can help support their efforts! Every time you make a purchase in one of our gift shops you are contributing to the health of your community. Stop by The Gift Gallery at PVH, The Marketplace at MCR, or the PVH Thrift Shop, and join the cycle of supporting health!

The PVH Thrift Shop is located at 1025 Pennock Place in Fort Collins. They are always accepting donations of clothing, furniture, housewares, small appliances (working condition), and office supplies.

Family Gives Donations in Lieu of Gifts to Recognize Father and Husband

March 30, 2015


Dr. EllisDr. Robert Ellis has a long history of supporting health in northern Colorado. Originally from North Dakota, he opened his practice in Fort Collins in 1963, after serving in the Army and completing his Internal Medicine residency in Denver. Dr. Ray Hansen an OB/GYN who practiced across the street from Poudre Valley Hospital at the time, gave Dr. Ellis office space until he could afford to pay the rent. In turn, years later, Dr. Ellis did the same for a hematologist who came to Fort Collins to practice. Dr. Ellis closed his office in 1995, but continued to read electrocardiograms (EKG) for PVH until his retirement in February 2014 after 51 years of practice on the PVH medical staff.

Dr. Ellis has been a longtime donor to the PVH and MCR Foundation, supporting initiatives from employee scholarship assistance to the Aspen Club program for senior health. But this past Christmas, the whole Ellis family got involved…

In lieu of giving gifts to each other for the Christmas holiday, Dr. Ellis’ wife and their three children made donations to the PVH and MCR Foundation in recognition of their husband and father’s 51 years of service to this community. Daughter Jennifer, who works in healthcare herself, donated to cardiac research. Son Jeffrey sent a donation in from Illinois to support the Safe Kids car seat program. Daughter Stephanie, a medical technologist at MCR, and wife Grace, a former RN and medical records librarian, gave to the recently completed Cancer Center.

We at the PVH and MCR Foundation were proud to accept these gifts in recognition of one of the many tremendous doctors we are fortunate to have here in northern Colorado. We join the Ellis family in extending our gratitude to Dr. Ellis for his years of service and commitment to the health and wellness of his community.

And, to all our wonderful doctors in the UCHealth family, we wish you a very Happy Doctors’ Day.  Thank you for all that you do to support health!

Doctors Day

Nurse-led Survivorship Clinic Receives Grant Award

March 16, 2015

Survivorship Patient w/ PT

With start-up funding provided by a grant from the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Foundation, oncology nurse Lisa Radice and her team are expanding and improving survivorship care for our cancer patients in Northern Colorado.

Survivorship care is a rapidly growing field in the world of oncology. Cancer survivors have a very unique set of healthcare needs that must be addressed as they move forward into their post-cancer lives. The survivorship care program seeks to provide education, guidance, support, and anticipation of recovery needs in addition to the standard survivorship needs of lifestyle modification, prevention and screening, and education of late effects of treatment. In the program Lisa and her team are building here at the UCHealth Cancer Center survivorship patients will meet with a multidisciplinary team including an Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Oncology Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Oncology Certified Physical Therapist. The group can then work together on a detailed follow up plan for the patient and their Primary Care Provider as well as the oncology team. This kind of collaborative communication between care providers can tremendously improve the transition out of the active treatment phase of cancer, giving the patient a synchronized network of support.

That transition, from fighting cancer to surviving cancer, can be an incredibly difficult time.  A survivorship patient recently told the program staff that after her long battle with cancer she had no idea how to start her life over again: “Cancer changed me so much it impacted every aspect of my life.” But after her first survivorship appointment she left with renewed hope, supported by a clear plan and the information necessary to begin this new chapter.  She credits her survivorship team for changing her outlook and putting her on a path to success: “Thank you all for providing me with tools to help me get started again.”

Evidence increasingly shows that a nurse-led survivorship model, like the one we are implementing, is most effective for coordinating this kind of care plan.  With the grant funding provided to our program by the ONS Foundation this past summer our nurses are making progress on educating staff and patients, raising awareness around survivorship care, and streamlining and implementing a smooth identification and referral process for survivors.

We are thrilled to be a part of the important work Lisa and her team are doing to improve the health and quality of life for our cancer patients even beyond the treatment phase. From foundation grants to individual donations, philanthropic support helps to create the best possible experience for our patients, giving them every additional resource to get the very most out of life even throughout the cancer journey.

Welcome, Rodney Rice!

March 2, 2015

PVH and MCR Foundation

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Welcome Mr. Rodney Rice to the Board of Directors!

The PVH and MCR Foundation is pleased to welcome Rodney Rice to its Board of Directors. The addition of Rice, President and CEO of Hydro Construction Company, Inc., brings the Board total to 11 members.

“We are delighted to have Mr. Rice join our board,” said Erica Siemers, senior director, PVH and MCR Foundation. “The business experience and community connections he brings will undoubtedly further the mission of the foundation.”

Fort Collins Native & CSU Graduate

Rice is a native of Fort Collins and a graduate of Colorado State University (CSU) with a degree in construction management. Since 1989, he has been instrumental in the success of Hydro Construction, Inc., which specializes in water and wastewater treatment, serving as general manager before taking on his current responsibilities as president and CEO. He has also continued to support his alma mater, assisting the CSU Construction Management program in course curriculum, internship placement, and industry needs analysis.

Outside of work, much of Rice’s time is focused on ways to give back to the community.

He has served on several boards including:

  • First Western Trust Advisory Board
  • RamStrength Board
  • And currently serving on the Eastern Larimer County (ELCO) Water District Board

Additional Charitable Funds

Rice is also one of the founding members of the Hydro Construction Charitable Fund, which benefits children, the elderly and families.

“I’ve enjoyed making a difference as part of the Hydro Construction fund and look forward to continuing that impact elsewhere through the PVH and MCR Foundation,” said Rice. “There are many innovative healthcare programs that require strong champions to ensure they are reaching the people who need help the most.”

With the addition of Rice, the members of the PVH and MCR Foundation Board devoted to sustaining its mission for a healthier community include:

  • Chair, Mike Dellenbach (Dellenbach Motors)
  • Mark Driscoll (First National Bank)
  • Jay Hardy (McWhinney)
  • Don Marostica (retired, Loveland Commercial)
  • Robert Marschke, MD
  • Yvonne Myers (Columbine Health Systems)
  • Rodney Rice (Hydro Construction, Inc.)
  • Chris Richmond (Flood and Peterson)
  • Miki Roth (The Group, Inc.)
  • Mike Sanders (Great Western Bank)
  • Kevin Unger (Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies)

Click here to make a donation or learn more about the Foundation.


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