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The Scarlet & Black

GRMC fundraises to expand services

This month marks the two-year anniversary of the Moving at the Speed of Life campaign that the Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) launched to improve the wellbeing of the town’s residents.

According to the campaign’s website, the goal of the capital campaign is to raise $7.5 million by 2017, the 50th anniversary of the medical center, in order to meet the community’s health needs.

Intended improvements include modernizing the emergency department, creating an urgent care clinic, enhancing the chemotherapy and infusion services, purchasing state-of-the-art robotic surgery equipment and a new CT scanner, renovating Postels Community Health Park, establishing an endowment for the Grinnell Regional Mental Health Center and replacing equipment for the obstetrical unit, patient rooms and nutrition services.

However, with the help of donors’ money, GRMC has already met some of the aforementioned goals, like opening an urgent care and installing a state-of-the-art robotic surgery device, among other achievements.

According to a statement sent to The S&B, the current priorities are the emergency department renovations and building the financial endowment to sustain the mental health center.

The Grinnell Regional medical center is using its Moving at the Speed of Life fundraising campaign to expand its mental health services and the emergency department. Photo by John Brady.
The Grinnell Regional medical center is using its Moving at the Speed of Life fundraising campaign to expand its mental health services and the emergency department. Photo by John Brady.

“Because of the success of the campaign, we have actually been able to advance a lot of those things already. We’re really moving our focus to the emergency department and mental health services because we’ve raised enough resources through the campaign. We’ve raised about $3.2 million and many of those dollars came in in a fashion that supported specific interests,” said GRMC President and CEO Todd Linden.

Helped along by generous donations, Linden is confident that the medical center will reach its goal of two million dollars specifically intended for emergency department renovations. To date, $878,000 has been raised for the emergency department.

“We’re confident we will reach that goal [two million dollars] this year and hopefully be into rebuilding our department by year-end,” Linden said.

The campaign largely determined its priorities based on a 15-year-old master plan. The plan looked at the overall medical campus, what the needs were for the campus and its facilities. The Moving at the Speed of Life campaign is the third campaign in finishing projects listed in the master plan.

For the campaign itself, GRMC participated in a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) as a requirement of the new federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which included a survey that was open to all residents in the county and a town hall meeting, which Grinnell College students, staff and faculty attended. According to the CHNA report, also provided to The S&B, the top three needs in the county were obesity, mental health and preventative care.

Mental health has also been a prioritized need for students on campus and a largely talked about service need on campus. In the summer of 2014, the College approached GRMC about changes to improve mental health services for students, according to the statement to The S&B.

“When the College called and said, ‘Hey, could you consider helping us?’ our mission and our values are to meet the healthcare needs of the community, and obviously the College is an integral part of the community, so we said, ‘Sure’ even though it was weeks before the semester was to start. We got after it and started recruiting people to support the activity,” Linden added.

To date, GRMC has recruited four part-time mental health counselors who are dedicated to student health and counseling services. Students also have the opportunity to see a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or social worker for long-term therapy at the Grinnell Regional Mental Health Center. According to the statement, from the beginning of fall semester to the present, the Mental Health Center has scheduled care for 164 visits on the Medical Center campus.

“Our goal is to have three full-time therapists on campus, not only providing the actual direct therapy services but to also provide resources and support on campus for other kinds of things,” Linden said.

But there is one major challenge for students to access mental health from the Regional Mental Health Center. Unfortunately, the insurance the College provides its students, Student Assurance Services, is not accepted at the Mental Health Center, but the Center is working closely with Student Assurance Services to resolve the out-of-network coverage and to improve access for students to mental health care services. To date, 17 students have been affected by the lack of coverage Student Assurance Services provides for mental health care.

Furthermore, Linden said that there is an unmet demand across the state and nation for additional mental health care providers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Grinnell has been a designated shortage area since 2006. GRMC is engaged in an ongoing effort to recruit new providers to meet this shortfall.

—Susanne Bushman ’16 contributed reporting.

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