About 100 area residents turned out Saturday evening at the Independence Country Club for the launch of the Mercy Hospital Foundation’s “Vision Forward” fundraising campaign to support facility and service enhancements at the hospital. The event also featured the foundation’s presentation of the first “Catherine McAuley Legacy Awards.”
Toby Cook, Independence native and vice president of Community Affairs & Publicity for the Kansas City Royals, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. A special keynote presentation was provided by another Independence native, Stacey Empson, who now serves as an international health care consultant with CTG Health Solutions based near Chicago, Ill.
Lynn Britton, president/CEO of the Mercy health ministry, also provided comments during the evening, sharing information on the organization’s plans to bring specialized health care services to all rural communities across the ministry via enhanced technology. Examples of such technology, he noted, include the electronic intensive care unit (eICU) system which provides remote monitoring of intensive care patients and already has been in place at Mercy since 2006, as well as future “telestroke” services, which will electronically connect stroke victims in the Mercy Independence Emergency Room with neuro-stroke specialists across Mercy for more immediate, brain-saving diagnosis and treatment.
Eric Ammons followed Britton’s presentation with information on local projects in the works to provide the foundation and infrastructure needed for future hospital expansion and service enhancements. These include the development of the former Lincoln School property for immediate use as a helipad for critical patient transfers and as the future location of expanded outpatient facilities; the installation of a $3 million chiller system to replace the current outdated air conditioning system at the hospital and support any future building additions; as well as aggressive physician recruitment for Independence.
The awards presentation highlighted the evening. Named for Catherine McAuley, founder of the religious order of the Sisters of Mercy in the early 19th century in Ireland, three legacy awards were presented, including: the “Exemplar Award” to Dr. Charles Empson, family physician who has served Independence for 39 of his 43 years of practice. The Exemplar Award will be presented annually to a Mercy physician, co-worker or volunteer “for exemplary service to the Mercy Health Ministry in keeping with the legacy of Catherine McAuley.”
The “Builder Award” was established to honor a consistent donor “for philanthropic support of the Mercy Health Ministry” and was presented Saturday to the Mercy Hospital Auxiliary. In addition to hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours of service, in just the last decade alone, the auxiliary has donated more than $254,000 to the hospital for needed equipment and also has awarded more than $80,000 in scholarships for clinical students since the organization’s founding in 1961. Additionally, the auxiliary has pledged a gift of $100,000 over a five-year period to the “Vision Forward” campaign.
The final recognition presented Saturday was the “Communitarian Award,” established to honor a community member at large “for service contributing to the ‘health’ of our community,” and this year’s recipient was Wanda Mayo. Mayo was recognized for countless hours of dedicated service to community service organizations and projects, including the Independence Chamber of Commerce, Soroptimist club, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Independence Main Street, FORPAZ, Relay for Life, Mercy Hospital Foundation and many more.
Through event attendance and associated fund-raising activities, Mercy Hospital Foundation Director Joanne Cox estimated the “Vision Forward” launch netted approximately $10,000 to support an overall first-year goal of $100,000.
More information on the foundation and the “Vision Forward” campaign is available by calling 620-332-3248.