Earlier this month, Megan Barber Allende, CEO of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County wrote an article about our efforts to help make our community better. Here it is in it’s entirety. We are so pleased to be involved in such a positive way!
Living and working in a small town has some wonderful advantages: we know our neighbors; we can get from one end of town to the other in ten minutes; and most importantly, we feel a true sense of belonging. It is this sense of belonging that inspires many of us to engage in community-based projects and to make charitable contributions to local organizations. When we feel connected to one another and we see the impact of our giving, it inspires us to do more.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with the leadership of a company that makes an important difference in the lives of local people every day, Pacific Redwood Medical Group (PRMG). PRMG is a medical group comprised of doctors, physician-assistants, and nurse practitioners who work in Ukiah Valley Medical Center’s (UVMC) Emergency Department and inpatient hospitalist service.
For decades, PRMG emergency physicians have cared for patients with incredibly complex and challenging medical problems, the types of problems that would be reserved for specialists in a larger metropolitan hospital. But here in Ukiah, where our specialists are limited, PRMG providers rise to the challenge and care for patients who have nowhere else to turn. “You can’t just be good to practice medicine here. You have to be really good,” said PRMG CEO Debbie Marks, MD.
In addition to the medical complexity of the patients, PRMG providers work in an emergency department built to care for far fewer patients. Instead of telling patients they’ll just have to wait, PRMG providers see as many patients as possible at any given time. The average patient who visits the UVMC Emergency Department spends a total of two hours at the hospital, from arrival to discharge. In many urban settings, patients sit in the waiting room for two hours or more before they are even seen.
In 2008, when it was clear UVMC needed dedicated providers to manage the broad range of hospitalized patients’ medical issues, PRMG started an inpatient hospitalist service. This team has received a five-star quality rating from Medicare and provides continuity of care from the Emergency Department to the hospital floor.
As if PRMG’s commitment to helping people in the hospital isn’t enough, these providers have a long history of helping patients outside of the hospital, too–making house calls, giving patients rides, or purchasing items to make patients more comfortable. And on top of all of this, they developed a charitable mission as a group, supporting local organizations dedicated to improving community health. “We tried various ways of giving in the community over the years, but we didn’t feel we were making a substantial and consistent difference,” Dr. Marks explained. “That’s when we connected with the Community Foundation.”
PRMG opened the Community Foundation’s first corporate-advised fund. It is similar to other donor-advised funds, with the corporation providing seed money to start the fund and paying the annual management fee. After that, the fund is based solely on employee donations. Although donating to the Pacific Redwood Medical Group Charitable Fund is entirely voluntary, most of the 18 full-time employees have opted to contribute monthly.
Summarizing PRMG’s belief about philanthropy, Dr. Marvin Trotter, the medical group’s Philanthropy Committee Chair said, “Giving locally is our only hope for a just and prosperous community. Every day, PRMG sees how we can help make the community better–it’s about prevention, prevention, prevention.”
“By working with the Community Foundation, we can allow funds to accumulate,” Dr. Marks added. “Then, when the right community-based prevention project comes along, we will be in a position to make a substantial grant. With the help of the Community Foundation, the impact of our collective giving is so much greater than our individual gifts.”
This is precisely what the Community Foundation is uniquely designed to achieve, and we’re thrilled to be working with PRMG to help them meet their charitable goals in our community.