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Hospital endorses alignment plan with Rice Health Foundation

WILLMAR -- Under a new alignment plan, the boards of the Rice Health Foundation and Rice Memorial Hospital will work more closely together to identify, support and fund some of the key needs of the hospital.

The plan was unanimously endorsed Wednesday by the board of directors of the city-owned hospital.

It was the next step in a process that began last year with integrating the nonprofit foundation, which was previously a separate entity, with Rice Hospital. The foundation also ended its community grant program last year in order to concentrate fully on program and capital needs within the hospital.

"As part of that process, we talked about the importance of better aligning ourselves with the hospital," said Dr. Lachlan Smith, chairman of the Rice Health Foundation board.

A task force made up of representatives of both the foundation board and the hospital board has been meeting for the past few months to outline in more detail how the two organizations can bring their priorities into sync.

The alignment plan calls for the foundation's leadership to be more involved in hospital decisions on capital needs. For instance, someone from the foundation now serves on the hospital's capital allocation committee, which reviews requests from hospital departments. A foundation representative also will participate in the final stages of the hospital's longer-term capital planning process.

This involvement will help the foundation identify projects that could be the target of community fundraising -- and, in turn, build community support, Smith said. "I think we can better provide that ownership within the community."

In addition, the foundation will offer grants twice a year to support programs and services within the hospital that can't be met by the hospital's current budget.

Other measures outlined in the alignment plan include input from the medical staff in the foundation's annual planning process.

The entire process will be formally reviewed once a year to ensure it is meeting its objectives. "It's something that we're hoping will be successful," Smith said.

Wayne Larson, of the Rice Hospital board of directors, said communication will be one of the essential ingredients. "It's going to be important to identify those programs that are on the wish list," he said.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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