Shortly after being established in 1946, the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center Guild crafted and adopted a mission statement: “To give of ourselves in the spirit of loving and generous service for the greater good” of the indispensable Burbank hospital.
For the next 74 years, the dedicated guild members did just that by staging various fundraising events, including their annual fashion show, and running the medical center’s gift shop. Then, just as the guild was preparing to celebrate its diamond jubilee, everything it does came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without being able to do our main fundraiser – our big fashion show – and having our gift shop shut down, our ability to raise funds has become extremely limited,” said Julie McArdle, the guild’s president. “We have made a million-dollar pledge to be used for the construction of the new emergency department and urgent care facility, so I sent out a letter to our membership asking them to send a check for what they would have spent at our fashion show. I also asked members to reach out to their friends and family members to make a 75th anniversary donation to the guild in $75 increments. Just by doing that alone, we brought in over $15,000.”
Saint Joseph Medical Center CEO Kelly Linden, who recently accepted a check for $60,000 from the guild’s fundraising efforts, said she found it amazing that that guild members were not going to let the pandemic stand in their way when it came to working toward their pledged goal.
“The guild is a very special group of people,” said Linden. “Since 1946 they have always been there for us – supporting us in so many ways – and during this unprecedented time they have still found ways to raise funds and be supportive. I’m very thankful for what they do.”
In a recent report to the Burbank City Council, Linden said that of the medical center’s admissions in January, over 50% have been COVID-19 related. Explaining that the institution has doubled its critical care capacity, added triage tents to support the emergency department and established a contingency plan to extend bed capacity and supplies should there be a further rise in cases, Linden said that by the end of this month 2,500 physicians and staff members will have been vaccinated and in the queue for their second dose.
Though the COVID-19 outbreak has severely impacted the hospital, it has done nothing to interrupt the building of the new emergency facilities.
“Fortunately, the pandemic hasn’t had any adverse impact on our construction,” said Linden. “We thought there may be slowdowns, but that hasn’t been the case, and we’re very pleased that things are on track for us to be open in the summer of 2022.”
In fall 2018, the medical center announced its plan to build a new, state-of-the-art, 34,500-square-foot emergency room with improved triage areas, facilities to better care for patients with mental health issues, a dedicated imaging lab, and a 5,500-square-foot urgent care facility.
About 71,000 patients go through the emergency room each year, and now the pandemic has given health-care providers and hospital staff members an even greater desire to get into their new facilities.
“Along with caring for our patients and their families, we have also been looking at how this pandemic is impacting our workflow and our ability to offer the best possible care,” said Linden. “It has given us the opportunity to rethink some of the things we are doing as far as triage, facility access, our need for negative pressure rooms [isolation rooms that keep patients who have infectious illnesses or are susceptible to infections away from other patients, visitors and the health-care staff], ways in which we can connect with people virtually, and to enhance our overall communications,” Linden added.
While the construction moves forward, Linden and McArdle both emphasized the need to continue the work to reach the project’s $78 million dollar funding goal.
“We’re at $66 million now and, along with the guild, the community has been extremely generous and supportive,” said Linden. “We are so grateful to those who have not only supported our fundraising campaign, but for those who have made donations and provided food and personal protective equipment for our staff who have been challenged in ways they never thought they would be. We are reliant on everyone’s support, and every donation, no matter how much, will help us continue to move forward, reach our goal, and to better meet the needs of our community with new resources.”
McArdle said she and the foundation have hopes of being able to stage a physical fundraising event and once again open the group’s gift shop by summer.
“I’m looking forward to the time when we can physically get back together,” said McArdle. “First and foremost to reach our fundraising goal, but there is also another reason. The majority of our guild members are older – over 65 – and the isolation caused by the pandemic has been difficult for them. I know so many of them are looking forward to the time when they can be with one another again. That is vitally important, and I hope it can happen soon. I look at it as another way for us to live up to our mission statement.”
For more information on the new facilities at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center and giving opportunities, visit supportsaintjoseph.org.
David Laurell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.