St. Joseph's Hospital administrator Skip Gjolberg announces the hospital foundation's 2019-2020 fundraising campaign -- Every Heartbeat Matters -- at an event Thursday evening.
St. Joseph's Hospital administrator Skip Gjolberg announces the hospital foundation's 2019-2020 fundraising campaign -- Every Heartbeat Matters -- at an event Thursday evening.

St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation sets ambitious fundraising goal in fight against West Virginia’s number one killer

Every heartbeat matters.

That’s the theme of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation’s 2019-2020 campaign, which seeks to raise $100,000 to purchase equipment for the cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation programs.

“The State of West Virginia has the highest heart disease rate in the nation at 14.6 percent,” foundation board member Jennifer Fluke said at an event kicking off the campaign Thursday evening. “It is the leading cause of death in the state.”

Since it’s inception in 1994, the foundation has raised money for several causes, including a “hugs and kisses” wristband system for newborns and their mothers, renovations to the chapel and upgrades the nurse call system.

“One of our goals is to work in the community and with business leaders,” Fluke said. “The hospital is a wonderful place – it’s a great employer and it does a lot for everything we have to offer [in Upshur County].”

Hospital administrator Skip Gjolberg credited the foundation board for setting an ambitious goal for the latest campaign.

“I hate to be cliché, but they’re taking it to the next level,” Gjolberg said. “We’ve grown our foundation membership and added some good people. They’re really motivated and really want to see the hospital be successful.”

In May, the foundation announced the addition of several new board members, including Fluke, owner of Caroline’s Closet and co-owner of Sunset Graphics, Northridge Development and Majestic Hospitality; Aaron Harris, Aaron Harris Auction Services; Mike Shaver, Mountain V Oil and Gas; Robbie Skinner, Mountain Lakes Insurance and Buckhannon City Council; and Dusty Zickefoose, Upshur County Assessor.

They joined board members Tim Critchfield, Gjolberg, John Haskins, Steve Holmes, Sister Francesca Lowis, Don Nestor, Russ Plywaczynski, Dr. Joseph Reed, Terry Reed and Mike Ross.

“This is a big jump, $100,000 to get this cardiac equipment that we need, so we’re really stoked about doing that,” Gjolberg said. “Our cardiology program has been growing. We combined with the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, so we have Dr. [Abbas] Ali and Dr. [Gerardo] Lopez.

“Our volumes have grown tremendously. We’re at the point now where they’re recruiting a full-time cardiologist, so we’ll have cardiology coverage here either four or five days a week – today it’s two days a week.”

Gjolberg said the equipment the foundation plans to purchase – including a bike stress echo tilt table, NuStep exercise machines, a cardiac rehab treadmill and more – will help keep patients close to home, rather than traveling for care.

“These are things Dr. Ali really wanted us to get to be able to offer more services here,” Gjolberg said. “It prevents people from having to drive up to Morgantown.

“Keeping people local, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. You can get a lot of what you need done right here – all your primary care, general surgeries and the specialists that come here now.”

Gjolberg said the presence of a strong healthcare facility is a boon to any community.

“Typically when people want to move to a town, they ask, ‘How’s your healthcare? How’s your school system?’ Those are the big questions they have.”

During his presentation, the hospital administrator detailed the founding of the hospital through more recent developments, such as when it became part of the WVU Medicine in 2015. He noted St. Joseph’s Hospital will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary in March 2021.

This year, the hospital has seen 15,000 emergency room visits and delivered more than 300 babies.

“A project like this, anything helps,” Gjolberg said of the foundation’s campaign. “Five dollars, $25, $50 … whatever anybody can do would be great. I’d love to have a number that says, we’ve had 5,000 people donate to this project. Maybe those 5,000 are giving $5 each, but we have all these people in the community giving.”

As 501-C3 organization, gifts are tax-deductible. To donate, you may mail a gift to St. Joseph’s Foundation, One Amalia Drive, Buckhannon, WV 26201 or donate online by clicking here.

In addition to cash and corporate donations, the foundation will work with you for planned giving, annuities, bequests and other ways to offer support.

For more information, call 304-473-6819 or email Lisa.Wharton1@wvumedicine.org.

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