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Community is the key to St. Mary’s of Winsted Foundation
Feb. 13, 2012
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By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – As a Benedictine Health Care System (BHS) facility, St. Mary’s in Winsted offers multiple care services which all promote the BHS core values of hospitality, stewardship, respect, and justice; oftentimes, focusing on the “poor and the powerless.”

“We serve people who can’t always afford their care,” said St. Mary’s CEO/Administrator Christina Gamaldi. “St. Mary’s understands that, but in order to remain sustainable, what we need to do is to utilize our funds the best way we know how.”

The St. Mary’s of Winsted Foundation, which is linked with the BHS overall foundation, is now providing St. Mary’s with a process to manage and prioritize its funds.

By being part of the larger foundation, St. Mary’s smaller foundation receives the benefits of having all of the connections that are needed in the investment world and guidance on how to use the money, according to Gamaldi, but the funds are designated for St. Mary’s campus in Winsted.

The plan for St. Mary’s foundation began in 2008, and in 2009, it was formally created.

It has taken three years for St. Mary’s foundation to reach the point where it has people from the community in place so it can start its future long-term planning.

St. Mary’s foundation board chair is Pam Henry Neaton of Hollywood Township. Board members are Mary Ann Baumann of Winsted, Joan Genty of Winsted, Mary Purcell of Winsted, and Dr. Michael Thoennes of Howard Lake.

“We are excited to get this piece into place because the associated foundation has long been a goal of St. Mary’s,” Gamaldi said. “We have always had community support, but this is a way for us to formally show it. We appreciate being a part of Winsted and we appreciate all that Winsted does for us,” Gamaldi said.

Neaton will work closely with Darlene Henry, who is the foundation coordinator employed by St. Mary’s and will provide support to the committee chairs, according to Gamaldi.

“She will help them to continue in the direction that the foundation is trying to go and at this point, to grow,” Gamaldi added.

Under the board are four individual committees with individual chairs – community relations, employee giving, annual gifts, and major gifts.

So far, two chairs have been named. The chair of the community relations committee is Purcell, and the other chair is Baumann, who is head of the employee giving committee.

The purpose of the community relations committee is to educate and inform the public about services offered at St. Mary’s. Members of the committee consist of care center staff, neighboring community members, volunteers, and past and present family members of residents at St. Mary’s Care Center.

For the last two years, the community relations committee has hosted the St. Mary’s Walk of Hope to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also has raised funds to enhance the memory care unit on the lower level of the care center called the Garden Level.

The funds from the previous walks were used to purchase a new computer for residents and family members to use, and to replace outdated flooring.

The Garden Level at the care center is home to 25 residents and St. Mary’s new facility called the Garden House, which opened in August 2011, provides assisted living for approximately 20 residents with memory care needs.

This year’s Walk of Hope will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 12.

“But the community relations committee can also have other fundraisers for other things,” Gamaldi explained.

A fundraising initiative Gamaldi hopes one of the committees will consider is to raise $70,000 for St. Mary’s wellness gym.

Gamaldi would like to see specialized equipment with smart card technology available in St. Mary’s gym for community members,’ staff, current residents,’ and outpatient use.

Baumann, chair of the employee giving committee, has been an employee of St. Mary’s Care Center for 47 years.

“The employees have used their funds for improvements in the building that they would like to see,” Gamaldi said. “Recently, they gave me approval to use some of the employee funds to get chairs for our new front porch so the residents can enjoy that area. They choose things that are important to them (the employees).”

The other chairs for the annual gifts and major gift committees are still being considered at this time.

St. Mary’s equipment is state-of-the-art

In addition to the funding from St. Mary’s of Winsted Foundation, St. Mary’s continues to apply for and receive grants which have provided state-of-the-art technology at the care center.

In the last five years, through various funding, St. Mary’s has incorporated electronic charting (computerized patient data), and a new call light system, and purchased special therapy equipment, and numerous ceiling lifts.

In March, the care center will go live with electronic medication records and treatment records, purchased through a performance-based incentive payment program (PIPP) received through the state of Minnesota.

“Right now, nurses have big, bound books that have all of the medication administration records and all of the treatment records,” Gamaldi said. “All that will be computerized. It’s basically a paperless system, which decreases the possibility of making medication errors, and is a better system for streamlining staff time.”

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