Foundation event showcases docs who were first in their professions at PVH

December 2, 2015


Beard_Kesler_Jones 2

Dr. Don Beard, Dr. Kelvin Kessler, and Dr. William Jones

UCHealth Chief Executive Officer Liz Concordia recently talked to a group of retired physicians from Poudre Valley Hospital. The physicians in the room had decades of medical experience; and many of the doctors were among the first in Fort Collins in their respective professions.

“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for your leadership and knowledge in providing exceptional service to grow this system,” Concordia said to the group of more than 30 retired doctors.

Among them was Dr. Stanley Henson, who just turned 99 years old at the end of November. In 1956, Henson started the first general surgeons’ practice in Fort Collins. Dr. James Wise, also in the crowd, joined in 1961. Then in 1964, Dr. Merlin Otteman joined the practice.

Otteman, who become the first to perform bariatric surgery at Poudre Valley Hospital, also was in attendance.

“No one else was doing it here, and the hospital was very supportive, providing the special equipment and tools necessary,” he said. “It was an unusual thing to do — surgical treatment for morbid obesity.”

It was only about 15 years ago that bariatric surgery became an acceptable treatment, Otteman said, adding that it was a very rewarding profession.

“As far as a surgeon goes, they (bariatric patients) are the most gratifying patients to have,” he said, opening a retirement scrapbook filled with thank-you letters from patients over the years.

Other event attendees had different stories to tell. Event speakers included Dr. Don Beard, one of the first pediatricians in Fort Collins, and Dr. Lee Jeffrey, an OB/Gyn. Both discussed the area’s history regarding their specialties.

“We’ve come a long way from what you’ve started and from what you grew,” Concordia said to the room, and she concluded by commending the strength of the physicians who practiced in northern Colorado with Poudre Valley Health System, now UCHealth.

The annual Retired Physicians event was hosted by the PVH & MCR Foundation in partnership with Columbine Health Systems.

Retired Docs

Dr. Paul Snodderly, Dr. Dan Turner, Dr. Bill Repert, and Dr. Bob Edwards

Story by Kati Blocker, UCHealth

Bricks support Poudre Valley Hospital NICU

October 20, 2015

BrickIn March 2015, a new fund was established in the PVH and MCR Foundation to benefit the Poudre Valley Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PVH NICU). Despite the amazing work that happens there every day, the PVH NICU space has been in need of expansion and updating for some time. Mid-year, construction began at PVH on a number of projects including the demolition of PVH’s oldest building, the A Building, as well as a significant change to the PVH NICU. The new NICU will include individual patient rooms, new spaces for families, and many equipment upgrades to ensure the very best care for our community’s babies needing special care in the first weeks of life. To complement the work PVH is doing to update the NICU, the foundation established the PVH NICU fund to provide resources for families while their babies are in the NICU, and to provide enhanced and innovative care for our littlest patients.

During the demolition of PVH’s oldest building, bricks were salvaged for a special purpose: to benefit the PVH NICU fund. A limited number of bricks were rescued from the rubble of the A Building and are available to our community while supplies last, with donations benefiting the PVH NICU fund. A brick engraved with a message celebrating PVH’s long history in Fort Collins is available for $250, and a custom engraved brick that will live on installed as a walkway in the Gardens at PVH is available for $1000. To date, nearly 70 bricks have been reserved, and more than $33,000 has been raised in support of the newest additions to our community who need the most help.

To reserve your brick today, visit

2015 Community Events Support the Foundation

October 19, 2015

The PVH and MCR Foundation is proud to partner with dedicated community members to support a myriad of programs and services through our third-party event program.  Fourteen third-party events have been hosted (or are yet to come!) in 2015, offering financial support, community awareness and engagement opportunities.  Third-party events are conceived and carried out by community members with an interest in supporting the causes closest to their hearts. The foundation extends our warmest appreciation to the volunteer commitments that make these events successful.  With final totals still pending, these events have already raised over $15,000! To learn more about hosting or participating in a third-party event please visit our website.

Don’t forget to fill up your coffee mug and say hello to the oncology staff (and Kevin Unger), guest baristas at this Friday’s “Coffee for a Cure” at Fort Collins Human Bean locations!


UCHealth Nurses Walk – Family Fun Walk

April 25 | PVH Walking Path

Proceeds benefit: North UCHealth Nursing Scholarship

On Key – A Benefit for Mental Health

May 1 | Everitt & Schilling – 151 W. Mountain Ave.

Proceeds benefit: Psych Services


E.R.I.C.A. Lupus Awareness Walk 2015

May 3 | Colorado State University Intermural Fields

Proceeds benefit: E.R.I.C.A. Lupus Patient Assistance


Zephyr Semi-Annual Friends and Family Hat Sale

June 4 – 7 | 5443 Earhart Road, Loveland, CO 80538

Proceeds benefit: UCHealth Healthy Hearts Program


Colorado Moves to End Cancer

8th Annual Series of Events February through October

Proceeds benefit: UCHealth Cancer Center


4th Annual Ptarmigan Double Cup

September 2 | Ptarmigan Golf Course

Proceeds benefit: Oncology Patient and Family Support



High Hopes 5K Hike

September 19 | Spring Canyon Park

Proceeds benefit: Cancer Center and Oncology Services


Orthopedic and Spine Center of the Rockies Walk

September 19 | Bike Path at OCR

Proceeds benefit: Donor designated

Harmony TOUGH (TOgether United in Giving Hope)

Month of October | Computer Services Inc./Businesses along Harmony Corridor

Proceeds benefit: Cancer Center and Oncology Services


TITLE Boxing Box-A-Thon

October 3 | TITLE Boxing

Proceeds benefit: Wilbur’s Fund for Women with Breast Cancer


City Park Ladies Golf League 

October 3 | City Park Nine Golf Course

Proceeds benefit: Wilbur’s Fund for Women with Breast Cancer

 photo 8

Wilbur’s Day

October 11 | Wilbur’s Total Beverage

Proceeds benefit: Wilbur’s Fund for Women with Breast Cancer


UPCOMING: Coffee for a Cure

October 23 | 5am – 10pm | Fort Collins Human Bean locations

Proceeds benefit: Oncology Patient and Family Support

Coffee for A Cure

UPCOMING: Garth Englund Blood Center Donor Appreciation Dinner and Silent Auction

November 17 | 6pm – 8pm | Fort Collins Discovery Museum

Proceeds benefit: Garth Englund Blood Center

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


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 or by contacting JoAnn Herkenhoff ( 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 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 to make a gift and reserve a brick today.


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.


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