Early in February the Pondera HealthCare Foundation sponsored their 5th Annual Taste of Pondera (TOP) and is pleased to report on the fundraiser’s success. Prior to the event, the Foundation started two raffles: one for a Honda Side by Side and the second for a John Deere Zero Turn Lawn Mower. Tickets were drawn at the TOP and the winners were Jodie Weisgram and Dirk Elings, respectively. Other game winners throughout the evening were Chary Majerus, Mary Klette, Vernon Erickson, and Lori Pearson.
Patrons of the event were Billmans Home Décor, Lynne Newmiller, Counseling Connections, Glacier Raft Company, and Scheels, along with sponsors in part: Pure Bliss Cycle Inc, and Frontline Ag Solutions. Table sponsors included 3V Distributing, Terry & Dan Aakre and Friends, Maria Cates and Friends, Frontline Ag Solutions, I-15 Self Storage, Kronebusch Inlaws & Outlaws, Newmiller Compressor, Pondera Medical Center, Art & Lori Pearson and Friends, Walter Sill & Family, Stockman Bank, and Swank Enterprises. Besides the games and raffle draws, the full house was entertained by comedian, magician, storyteller DeWayne Hill. Throughout the evening, Mary DeStaffaney and Michael O’Brien took candid photos, and Gerald Miller provided a faultless sound system.
At their recent monthly meeting the PHCF directors agreed to distribute the proceeds of the event as follows: $8,800 to Pondera Medical Center for the purchase of 3 patient chairs, 2 patient recliners, and an oxygen analyzer; $10,000 will go to pay down the construction loan on the Pondera Pathway; and $2,000 will go toward the 100X1000 Campaign which is a permanent endowment fund. In the future, PHCF will coordinate with the mental health consortium as they explore projects to bring to the area. Once they’ve identified a project, the board will look to provide support with remaining TOP proceeds and/or cash on hand.
Before the evening’s entertainment, outgoing board president, Kristen Juras, current director Darby Donoven, and newly installed chairman, Art Pearson gave a short presentation. They recognized former PHCF board members: Past President Don McClain, and directors Sarah Oehlke, Gordon Nelsen, Gary Olson, Vanessa Bucklin, Scott Johnson, Dede Brown, Reta Rae Weisgram, and Phyllis Philipps. Current directors were acknowledged: Terry Aakre, Donovan, Maria Cates, Brett Huntsinger, Kristen Juras, Shirley Kronebusch, Lynne Newmiller, David Ratzburg, and Jackie Wheeler. Bernard Ries was mentioned as the Pondera Medical Center’s board liaison. Donoven stated to the audience, “We need new directors and volunteers to continue to support our efforts. So, if you’re interested in serving, please contact any one of these directors.”
Pearson noted that the PHCF had contributed over $200,000 to improving health and wellness for all ages within Pondera County in the last 5 years. Past director Philipps was praised for taking the lead on the Pondera Pathway project. The idea for this project came about when Phyllis chaired the community round table discussion held in October of 2016. Through her facilitation, the group identified the top need for improving county residents health and wellbeing: “Family Recreation – Walking Path.” Along with grant writing, she worked with the engineers, contractors, a City coalition, the School Board, community volunteers and nonprofit organizations to design and construct the trail. It was mentioned that her tenacity was unparalleled and she worked on this project for 3 years while satisfying all entities involved. Juras said, “At the same time she was facing her own significant health challenges, Phyllis put together all the puzzle pieces into a beneficial and popular recreational pathway. Her passion for the pathway was infectious.” A tree will be planted along the pathway and the first mile of the pathway will be named in her honor to recognize the commitment that she had to the Pondera Pathway.
The 501(c)(3) non-profit Foundation is looking forward to another year of building their endowment fund, and continuing to raise funds for improvements that benefit the health and wellbeing of the residents of Pondera County.
Phyllis Ann Philipps, (r) shown with friend Judy Ellis, Taste of Pondera patron, reports that the recent Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) sponsored fundraising event was very successful. Totals of the donations, games, raffles, and live auction will be used for ongoing Foundation health and wellness projects as well as to kick start the construction of the Pondera Pathway, a multi-use recreational trail in Conrad.
The idea of the Pathway came about from a polling during a roundtable discussion of healthcare stakeholders. A definite majority of attendees agreed that a pathway or trail project would be beneficial to Pondera County residents of all ages. In the past two years Philipps has chaired the efforts to make the Pathway a possibility. The PHCF Board, after receiving numerous bids for construction of the first mile of trail has selected Havre Sand and Gravel as the contractor who will be constructing the path this spring.
The PHCF has partnered with the City of Conrad, Phillips 66, the Pondera County Conservation District, School District #10, Pondera County, and the Montana State Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Recreational Trail Program for startup funds. Other funds are being solicited from numerous others including private members of the community to help defray costs. Donating opportunities will include trail sponsorship. For more information on the Pondera Pathway contact Phyllis Ann Philipps or Conrad, Mayor, Wendy Judisch, 289-0496.
At their recent Board meeting, the Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) welcomed new board members and conveyed appreciation to outgoing charter board members. New to the Board, Lynn Newmiller (middle) is shown with outgoing charter Board President Donald McClain and Foundation Nominating Committee person and Historian, Reta Rae Weisgram, also a charter member. Scott Johnson who had Vice President duties with the Foundation has also stepped down. Two other new directors joining Newmiller, are Brett Huntsinger and David Ratzburg.
Lynn’s career experiences have given her a good base of understanding to assist in the mission of PHCF. Her time in the healthcare industry began with work for local family physician, Dr. James Meyer. During that time she became EMT certified and also worked with Pondera County Ambulance. Lynn received her Associate Degree in Business Administration from MSU-Northern and has been employed as a senior claims analysis, paying and processing out-of-state Medicaid claims. In November of 2014 Newmiller was offered the opportunity to work again in Conrad to help individuals and businesses explore their options for healthcare coverage for the Leavitt Group. Lynn says, “Having been involved in so many aspects of health care over the years, I believe that access to quality care is vital to our community. I think working with the Foundation will afford me the opportunity to better understand and explore the barriers and obstacles faced by both providers and consumers.” Lynn is 44 years married to Ken and they raised 3 sons in Conrad.
New Board member Brett Huntsinger was born and raised in Conrad, attended MSU, and graduated with Associates Degrees from Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. Brett with his wife Marci, have a son, Caden, a sophomore attending Conrad High School. Marci is an Office Manager at Sunset Dental Care and Huntsinger is an Ag and Commercial Loan Officer at Stockman Bank. He says, “I feel fortunate to be a part of Pondera HealthCare Foundation. It’s an organization that not only provides support to PMC, but also supports the overall health and well-being of our community. Our local healthcare facilities are an important factor in the viability of our community; being part of an organization with goals to keep our facilities as a valuable resource for years to come will be very rewarding.” Huntsinger is looking forward to working side-by-side with other individuals and businesses on various projects, such as the walking path, to help improve the future of Conrad.
Brett, David, and Lynn bring their enthusiasm to the energetic, idea filled, and caring Foundation Board. The current slate of directors include: Kristen Juras, President; Art Pearson, V.Pres.; Terry Aakre, Treasurer; Phyllis Philipps, Fundraising Committee Chair; Shirley Kronebusch, Finance Chairperson; and voting Board members Jackie Wheeler, Darby Donovan, and Vanessa Bucklin. Bernard Ries is the current PMC Board liaison to the Foundation. Several community members serve the Foundation as Advisory Council members. If you seek more information about volunteering or providing financial support to the Foundation’s health and wellness mission, any one of these persons listed above would be happy to speak with you. www.ponderahcf.org
An Endowment fund – this is what Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) members have been looking forward to creating since they started their non-profit organization 4 years ago. They had a goal of creating a fund that would perpetually provide interest income. These returns will enhance and provide stability to PHCF’s health and wellness ventures. Kristen Juras, PHCF charter board member and fundraiser coordinator says, “This fund is about to become a reality!”
A recent mailing to Pondera County residents gave details of the Foundation’s endowment fund goal, as well as showed the serious resolve that PHCF volunteers have had on improving health care. The foundation has had a positive impact toward educating youth to affect better health and well-being. With the help of generous donors, PHCF has assisted in purchasing various pieces of equipment for Pondera Medical Center and Extended Care. Other purchases have supported important programs at the County Health Department. PHCF programs have assisted in making improvements to the County Emergency Medical Service with supplies and training. The Foundation has also helped with the recruitment of medical personnel, and has provided Certified Nurse Assistant scholarships to locals. Over $70,000.00 has been contributed to these causes.
In order to create a permanent fund, the Board of Directors of PHCF unanimously voted to launch the 100 X 1000 Campaign. They hope to find at least one hundred supporters who will donate $1,000. Whether donations are from a business, current or former County resident, or in memorial to a loved one, monies for this campaign will be deposited into the fund with the principal never to be spent.
As soon as the Fundraising Committee had plans for this campaign, there were interested individuals and businesses who wanted to join. This early support created a group that the Foundation calls the “Pacemaker Group.” Among these Pacemakers, Jon and Shirley Kronebusch were some of the first donors. Shirley is a current PHCF Board member and Finance Committee Chairperson person. In making this donation, she stated, “Having good and available health care in Pondera County, whether it is a new walking trail, youth education, or helping PMC with equipment is important to Jon and me. So, we were more than happy to help sustain this goal with our contribution to the PHCF 100 x $100 campaign.”
Other Pacemakers include: Kenneth and Jackie Wheeler, Beatrice Lunda; Dan and Terry Aakre; Don and Jeanette McClain; John and Janie McFarland and Conrad Building Center; Conrad Lions Club; Bernard and Patty Ries; Pondera Economic Development Corp.; Scott and Sherry Johnson; Independence Bank; PCI Conrad and Claire, Nick, and Colette Bucklin; and Conrad Lions Club Honoring Zane Drishinski. Along with these Pacemakers, anyone of the PHCF board members and volunteers would be happy to give out information to those interested in becoming part of the 100 X 1000 Campaign. Contact Pondera HealthCare Foundation, PO Box 802 Conrad, MT or online www.ponderahcf.org for more info.
The Pondera HealthCare Foundation has just received $20,000 from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) to begin work on a multi-use pathway in Conrad. This along with other funds raised to date means work on the pathway will begin this summer. Other funding received include a $10,000 grant from Phillips 66, donations from individuals and businesses at the 2018 Taste of Pondera, plus committed funds and in-kind assistance from the City of Conrad, the Pondera County Conservation District, and Pondera County. Numerous volunteer hours have contributed to moving the pathway forward. “We will begin the engineering and design of 1 mile of path this summer and hope to seek bids for construction this fall”, commented Don McClain, Pondera HealthCare Foundation President.
Of the one mile path engineered, plans are to construct as much of the pathway as possible. There are enough funds on hand to complete a minimum of .4 miles. An additional $8000 is needed to finish the first half completely.
This money is being sought from numerous grant sources and donations.
The first half of the trail will go from the skating rink area, around the Prairie View School and will meet up with the existing Safe Routes to School path. “This will create a nice two mile roundtrip from the trailhead”, remarked Phyllis Ann Philipps, fundraising chairman for the Foundation. The goal is then to complete the second half by 2020. An additional $50,000 is needed for the second .5 mile of the path.
The Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century established the Recreational Trails Program which provides for the transfer of federal gas taxes paid on non-highway recreational fuel used in off-highway vehicles to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks administers the RTP funds at the state level while the FHWA provides program oversight at the federal level.
The pathway was identified as the highest priority for the Pondera HealthCare Foundation at the 2016 HealthCare Roundtable in Conrad. The path is also identified in Pondera County’s Community Health Improvement Plan as a way to address numerous health issues including obesity, diabetes, cardiac, and mental health.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the pathway construction can send their donations to the Pondera HealthCare Foundation at P.O. Box 802, Conrad, Montana 59425. Checks should be marked specifically for the path. Twenty dollars will buy about one foot of constructed path.
At a recent Fundraising Committee meeting, Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) volunteer, Barb Habets, was pleased to unveil the Ambassador brochure, an aid to community newcomers. This brochure has been circulated at Pondera Medical Center, area banks, Conrad Public Library, and in the offices of the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce and the Superintendent of Schools.
The idea for this handout arose during the PHCF sponsored roundtable forum, held in the fall of 2016. Health concerned attendees expressed the need to improve the “look” of this community to retain talented and qualified medical workers. They felt new hires often don’t become assimilated into the community and too soon leave employment to find a new job in a community that serves their activity preferences & interests. With a program such as the Ambassador brochure, learning opportunities, hobby interests, and volunteer organizations are exposed to newcomers. It is the Foundation’s hope that recent hires will become involved and a part of the community and they will turn into long lasting employs.
Barb explained that the brochure is more than pictures and lists of community organizations. It includes a return envelope that the newcomer is encouraged to identify their interests of groups or activities. Foundation volunteers then act as ambassadors when they contact the affiliated body to touch base with the newcomer. The brochure also introduces the area, surrounding communities, and points of interest.
The Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) received $10,000 for phase I of the Conrad Pathway which is scheduled to begin construction at the end of the year. This grant will help purchase trailhead and directional signs, ADA accessible benches, trashcans, and pet waste stations along the approximately one and a half miles of trail. Phillips 66 through its philanthropy efforts provides funding to give back to communities in their affiliate areas. The Foundation was invited to participate in this charitable program.
The Conrad pathway was identified as the highest priority for PHCF during its 2016 roundtable of healthcare representatives and concerned citizens. This grant will contribute to the overall effectiveness of the path with the ultimate goal of providing a healthy and safe alternative for outdoor recreation in Pondera county.
The Foundation is waiting to hear from the Recreational Trails Program which will also provide a portion of the funding for trail construction. The City of Conrad, Pondera County, the Pondera County Conservation District and the Pondera HealthCare Foundation join Phillips 66 in providing funding and other resources to the project which will help make this dream a reality. The Foundation is also accepting donations for anyone wishing to contribute to pathway construction. Please send checks to the Pondera HealthCare Foundation at P.O. Box 802, Conrad, Montana 59425. State on the check that is to be used for the Conrad pathway.
Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) volunteers were happy to receive a “big check” from 3 Rivers Communications at the recent Taste of Pondera event. 3 Rivers General Manager/CEO, David Gibson, made the grant award and said, ”3 Rivers is pleased to be able to give back to our local communities and this is a wonderful way to help all our members.” Dave presented a check for $1500 from the 3 Rivers Communications Board of Trustees Community Enhancement Grant. Phyllis A. Philipps, PHCF Board Member, was the grant writer.
The Foundation will use the monies to fulfill 3 targeted fundraising goals. They hope to benefit the health and wellness of Pondera County residents with their promotion of the #LetsTalk App, the purchase of two additional Automatic Electronic Defibrillators at the Pondera Medical Center, and by providing child car seats to families who meet the criteria.
Gibson also noted, “Since 3 Rivers started the grant program in 2005 we have given over $10,000 to various community groups in Conrad. We are committed to supporting the organizations in our serving area that are making life better for all of our members.”
When tasked with finding the next project PHCF could donate toward, using Taste of Pondera proceeds, Roxy Zomer, Foundation volunteer contacted Nicki. Sullivan explained that State funding dedicated for the BuckleUp Montana program had been taken away from smaller communities. Previously, it was through a grant under this program that the County was able to provide car seats for youths. The Foundation agreed that having proper child safety seats was an important factor to improving health and wellness to the community, so they voted to help renew the Car Seat Program. With Taste of Pondera success, PHCF was able to donate $969.80 to the Health Department and 20 car seats were purchased.
Orcutt will distribute, and install car seats as well as share her expertise with parents. Since hospitals are required to verify that newborns have a proper car seat for their first ride home, Michaela said, “We hope to see pregnant mommas and parents who are in need of a car seats take advantage of our program.” The Health Department has car seats for infants and children until they have reached the height and weight requirements to be without a car seat. They currently have infant, convertible, forward facing with harness, and booster seats. In order to keep a sustainable level of car seats in inventory, they limit the program to one per family, and request a $25 donation for each seat. However, no qualifying parent will be denied as long as the Health Department has car seat inventory.
Pondera County residents may call the Health Department (271-3247) to apply for a car seat. Michaela reminds the public, “A car seat is only recommended for use 7 years after the manufacture date, so I urge anyone who transports children to check their child car seats.” She is happy to answer questions and perform car seat safety checks at the Health Department 311 South Virginia St. Suite 1, Monday – Thursday.
on the left – Patricia and Mike Harding, owners of Dusty’s Bar & Grill in Brady, were the top vote getters in the Pondera HealthCare Foundation’s 3rd Annual Taste of Pondera fundraiser. Their winning taste was Smoked Pulled Pork Enchiladas. On the right, coming in second place, is Cameron Augare, who’s energetic team was sponsored by Northern MT Eyecare. The Harding and Kapperud teams competed against 7 other savory teams who prepared a variety of delightful eats.
Shown on the left is Larry Goyette who was the winner of the Sweet category in the Pondera HealthCare Foundation’s 3rd Annual Taste of Pondera. Representing the Conrad School team, Goyette prepared winning cherry chocolate and mint chocolate mini cupcakes. Coming in as runners up was Jimmy Schlosser and Jolynn Minarik, owners of Froggie’s Bar & Grill in Valier. Their team served delicious cheesecake with a variety of toppings.
At their recent annual meeting, the Board of Directors nominated and filled the slate of officers and discussed the prospects of seating a new board member. Officers include Don McClain, President; Scott Johnson, Vice President; Terry Aakre, Treasurer; and Kristen Juras, Secretary. Continuing as committee chairpersons are Shirley Kronebusch- Finance Chairman, Phyllis Philipps- Fundraising committee chair, and Dede Brown- Publicity director.
Rita Rae Weisgram, who presides over the Nominating Committee, is searching for a person to fill an open board seat vacated by Dede Brown. Weisgram encourages anyone with an interest in the improvement of Pondera County’s healthcare and wellness to contact her for more information.
Along with meeting discussions on the upcoming February 3rd Taste of Pondera fundraiser, Treasurer Aakre reported on the Foundation’s aim at starting a legacy fund. While this is still in the planning stages, the board is looking forward to bringing into existence a fund which could have significant and lasting impacts within Pondera County. Aakre also highlighted a few recent donations including $1,881 from Combined Fund Drive, $500 from Conrad Lions Club, and $169 from partial proceeds of JR McCurdie’s 2018-Conrad Proud to call it Home Calendar.
The directors and volunteers would like to apprise the reader that their group has accomplished more beyond their annual Taste of Pondera fundraiser. In this last year the PHCF has awarded tuition reimbursements for qualified CNAs and EMTs. They purchased Jump Kits for remotely located EMTs. PHCF also gave funding aid to Conrad Chief of Police, Gary Dent, for his elementary grade Child Safety and Drug education. And, with the help of several health stakeholders in the area, the Foundation also sponsored the Healthy Train Express, a youth health fair for 4th through 6th graders held this past fall. They are looking forward to lending support to Diana Agre with Gateway Recovery and her plans for youth day on Super Bowl Sunday.
Pondera HealthCare Foundation meetings are held the 3rd Wednesday of the month, at 7AM, at the Home Café meeting room. The public is welcome to attend.
The Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) recently took time to reflect on how far they have come since the group’s start in the spring of 2014. After a town hall meeting, concerning the wellbeing of the local medical center, Gary Olson, Don McClain, Reta Rae Weisgram, and Sarah Oehlke spoke about starting a foundation. These four launched discussions that included Gordon Nelsen, Vanessa Bucklin, Kristen Juras, and Dede Brown. Within a year the group had received their federal nonprofit status and State incorporation papers, and the Pondera HealthCare Foundation was a reality. Their broad objective was to improve healthcare within Pondera County.
In giving a reason for her dedication to the Foundation, Juras explained, “I cared for my parents, Pat and Rib Gustafson, from 2012 through 2014 while they were experiencing end-of-life health issues. During that period of time, I realized how essential it was to have a top-rate medical facility and staff in Conrad. On several occasions they simply could not have tolerated a trip to Great Falls to seek the care they urgently needed. Local medical facilities and staff improve the quality of health care for Pondera County residents.”
At the PHCF Annual meeting in January, the current board presented “Pondera Plaques” to honor these citizens for their leadership and startup enthusiasm. After this recognition Nelsen reflected, “I was glad that Gary and I had that initial conversation.” Olson responded, “It’s gratifying to see how far the Foundation has come.” Nelsen, Oehlke, Olson, and Brown since have stepped down from this original Board.
Phyllis Ann Philipps joined PHCF as the 9th board member and she was later joined by Shirley Kronebusch, Darby Donoven, Scott Johnson, and Jackie Wheeler. Bernard Ries, PMC board member, has a non-voting presence with the Foundation.
Current Advisory Council members are Brown, JoAnne Cobb, Sheron Curry, Barb Habets, Jane Holzer, Janice Hoppes, Barb Judisch, Pam McFarland, Linda O’Brien, Ruthie Powers, Casey Rasmussen, Monica Taylor, Jaclyn Thayer, and Roxy Zomer. These members add their insight and the necessary elbow grease for projects.
Even though Brown has left her board position, she will remain to serve as Publicity Chairman, and help with Fundraising Committee activities. She encourages anyone in the community who are concerned, curious, or sympathetic to improving health and wellness for all ages within Pondera County to join the Foundation’s Advisory Council or Board of Directors. “Exciting things are in store for the Foundation! We have a year ‘round, far reaching presence in the county.”
Pondera HealthCare Foundation has awarded another Emergency Medical Technician training scholarship to Heidi (Standley) Fowler, who is taking emergency call outs for Valier and Conrad EMS. Readers should not be surprised to see Heidi working enthusiastically at one of the several jobs that she has been trained for. Heidi is the first to admit that her story is different than most.
Heidi’s Emergency Responder studies were completed in Fairfield under instructor, Deb Coverdell. She began working with Valier EMS since her twin 8 year old boys were attending Valier elementary. Heidi has since put in 180 hours of EMT studies in Shelby with Phil Aschim and Renae Manely as her instructors. She has passed her practical exam and is looking forward to passing the written test.
Along with twin boys, Heidi has a daughter attending the UofM, Dillon. She recently exchanged wedding vows with Kelly Fowler. Heidi is spending time in Valier on the EMT crew and in Conrad as a Fitness Specialist at the PMC Wellness Center. She also takes ambulance calls when she is in Conrad. Heidi’s service quote is as follows, “The ambulance is the calm to my chaos! It is the one place that I can focus and give to the community.” Not one to join the EMS team to get a front row seat to other peoples tragedies, Heidi jumped into the training because she knew, by helping others it was a way to help herself.
The Pondera HealthCare Foundation encourages interested community members to inquire about the Certified Nursing Assistant and Emergency Medical Technician classes at Pondera Medical Center. Tuition reimbursement scholarships are available from PHCF for those who meet the criteria.
The Pondera HealthCare Foundation (PHCF) recently hosted the Healthy Train Express, a health fair for students, grade 4th – 6th, and their parents. BNSF Railway was a financial supporter for this worthwhile event.
The Foundation decided to sponsor the Healthy Train Express, through data from the Community Health Improvement Study, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and the Pondera Medical Center’s (PMC) Needs Assessment Survey. Data showed that certain youth behaviors and habits, whether physical activity, diet, mental and physical wellbeing, can give rise to disorders and diseases when the child is in adulthood.
After a conversation that a PHCF board member, Dede Brown, had in January with Conrad Schools Superintendent, Sharyl Allen, it was decided to move forward with a plan for a youth health fair. With input from Allen, along with Cynthia Grubb, and several other PMC professionals, also Steve Baliko, Diana Agre, Pondera Health Department’s Nicki Sullivan, and several PHCF volunteers, the tracks were laid for the Healthy Train Express. Co-Chairperson, Linda O’Brien, brought life to the train theme utilizing the space in the school’s Prairie View Building.
Station “Engineers” who helped bestow healthy messages to Conrad, Valier and County homeschool students included employees from several departments at PMC, such as Respiratory, Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy; Emergency and Nutritional Services; Marketing; and Radiology. Others stations included: Conrad Public School, Pondera Health Department, Pondera Mental Health Advisory Board, Jim and Trish Day, Golden Triangle Gymnastics, Diana Agre with Gateway Recovery, Pondera Extension Homemakers, Jackie Berg, and AltaCare. As the groups of students rotated through the stations, Conrad FFA members were designated as the “Conductors” in charge of their travelers.
The event’s main sponsor, BNSF Railway, was present with their “Operation Lifesaver” video booth. Other donors involved Katherine Miser, George Tornga, Town Pump Hotel Group of Montana, Conrad Schools, Valier Schools, and Mountain View Co-op.
Dozens of prizes for youth and parents were handed out in a ceremony on the UMS playground. Drawings were held for a bicycle for one lucky girl and boy in each grade. Helmets for all bikes were donated by Katherine Miser.
More than 40 people attended the recent Health Care Round Table hosted by the Pondera HealthCare Foundation. Members from a broad spectrum of the community including legislators Llew Jones and Rob Cook discussed a variety of health care challenges facing Pondera County. Representatives from health care related organizations such as CASA, Big Sky Special Needs, ACES, Mental Health, Search & Rescue, Hi-Line Help for Abused Spouses, Horizon Lodge, Beehive Homes, the Pondera Medical Center and the public at large contributed to an open discussion about health care needs. During a brain storming session, participants identified and prioritized areas where the Pondera HealthCare Foundation may be of assistance with fundraising and sponsorship. Suggestions included the development of a family recreation walking path, hosting a health care fun day for young families and teens, creating a group of volunteer ambassadors to welcome new medical center employees and help integrate them into Conrad society, sponsoring parenting classes and drug and alcohol addiction services, promoting emergency medical services in Valier , and many other ideas. The meeting opened with a presentation by Cynthia Grubb on the recently completed Community Health Improvement Plan. She shared shocking statistics on the overall ranking of the United States compared to other countries in key health arenas and outlined some of the actions needed within Pondera County for improving overall health for its residents. Bill O’Leary, CEO of the Pondera Medical Center, reviewed the successes and challenges faced by the Center. He brought attention to concerns over the Center’s aging infrastructure and identified key management challenges such as recruiting and retaining providers as well as finding people willing to take on non-clerical support duties such as essential housekeeping duties. The Pondera Health Care Foundation has begun to review the information received and will decide what items to take on in their 2017 fiscal year.
The success of the January 31st Taste Of Pondera, an event sponsored by Pondera HealthCare Foundation, was applauded at the directors’ monthly morning meeting. The Fundraising committee report, along with Treasurer Terry Aakre’s statements, show that the Foundation nearly met their goal of raising monies to purchase 10 new beds for the Pondera Medical Center Extended Care. With the Taste Of Pondera net proceeds, a pledged donation from an anonymous donor, and additional funds from previous foundation gifts, the board voted to provide funding for 10 beds.
The hospital reports that after this purchase of 10 new beds and other recently purchased refurbished beds, they still have a need for more beds.
PMC CEO Bill O’Leary and staff are investigating pricing, different brands and suitable models. At this time O’Leary is confident that the price of individual beds will not exceed the $2500 estimate. The extended purchasing timeline gives the 501(c)(3) Foundation a chance to continue seeking donations for this critical need. Giving information can be found on their website www.ponderahcf.org.
Foundation to Offer Scholarships
The Pondera HealthCare Foundation, (a 501(C)(3) organization, is offering scholarships to Certified Nursing Assistant and First Responder trainees. The Foundation will provide up to $200 for Certified Nursing Assistant trainees and up to $300 for First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician trainees who successfully complete the course, pass the required tests and who are then employed at the Pondera Medical Center for a minimum of six months.
Two of the key objectives of the Pondera HealthCare Foundation are employee recruitment and retention as well as offering healthcare career scholarships. There is a critical need for both Certified Nursing Assistants and First Responders/EMTS in Pondera County. Providing service around the clock, 365 days of the year can be stressful for the ten dedicated individuals who currently serve in Pondera County as First Responders. There is also a high turnover rate for Certified Nursing Assistants at the Pondera Medical Center. The Foundation feels there is a need to provide incentives for individuals to not only obtain the training but to encourage long term employment at the Pondera Medical Center. In addition to scholarships, the Foundation will be funding continuing educational materials for Certified Nursing Assistants currently employed by the Pondera Medical Center.
For scholarship applications and information on upcoming training, please contact the Pondera Medical Center staff. Mary Elkins provides leadership for the Certified Nursing Assistant training and Ruth Erickson for First Responder training.
The Foundation is able to provide these educational opportunities and scholarships due to the generous donations it has received in recent months. Future fundraising activities are on the horizon including a January 30 event to raise money for critically needed upgraded hospital beds. More information will be coming soon.