What began as a capital campaign for a new cancer treatment center in Kalamazoo and to upgrade care in Battle Creek has turned into a broader effort by Bronson Healthcare to expand patient access to care.
The Bronson Health Foundation’s Cancer Care Campaign has quietly netted pledges from more than 100 donors totaling $9.2 million, exceeding an original goal of raising $8 million.
Surpassing the original goal led the Foundation to add elements to the capital campaign. Among them is creating a fund to help patients “struggling for whatever reason with obstacles to their care,” such as transportation to a medical appointment and affordable medications, said Terry Morrow, vice president of development at Bronson Healthcare.
The foundation also wants to fund support services for oncology patients. That could include, for example, assisting cancer patients who experience hair loss from radiation therapy or women who had a mastectomy and need specialized garments and clothing that aid healing, Morrow said.
The Cancer Care Campaign that launched two years ago moved into a public fundraising phase this month. The foundation has not set a new target or goal for the ongoing campaign and aims “to raise as much money as we can,” Morrow said.
“As we’re adding new elements to the vision, some of those have unlimited needs, really. What we’re hoping to do is invite as many folks in the community who can relate and understand and ask them to contribute,” Morrow said. “We know there is really a lot of unmet need and we’re so thrilled and humbled by the generosity of these communities. It’s just allowing us to meet even more of these needs.”
The capital campaign initially sought to raise funds for the $60 million Frank J. Sardone Pavilion that opened Feb. 1 on the campus of Bronson Methodist Hospital in downtown Kalamazoo, plus buying radiation technology at the Bronson Cancer Center in Battle Creek. As well, the campaign supports a new psychologist for pediatric oncology patients and their families.
A few donors have committed more than $700,000 to support uncovering and addressing disparities in both outcomes and patient experience in cancer care. That’s a non-traditional element for capital campaigns that generally aim to cover new construction and the cost of high-tech medical equipment.
“We know that in some parts of our community, some patients experience our system differently and they experience outcomes differently. We’re relatively confident that some of those disparities are related to inequities,” Morrow said. “Bronson is committed to being an equitable health care provider and being there for every community member that needs us. We want to do some hard work to uncover which disparities are related to inequities and start addressing those.”
Donations to Bronson’s Cancer Care Campaign have come from individuals, families, businesses and foundations across the region.
Supporting ‘healing environments’
Kim Nuyen — president of Moore Electrical Service Inc. in Kalamazoo — and his wife, Valerie, gave the lead $1.25 million donation to the campaign.
“My family has confronted the realities of cancer treatment. Making this gift is meaningful as our community builds a better and more coordinated vision for cancer care,” Nuyen said. “Facilities and spaces really matter during a patient’s time of vulnerability, and Bronson is delivering the healing environments that our families, friends and neighbors deserve.”
Other donors include the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, The Maxon Foundation at U.S. Bank, Bronson Battle Creek Hospital Community Partners, Havirmill Foundation, Frank Sardone and Susan Fall, Suzanne Upjohn Delano Parish Foundation, Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation, Friends and Family of Mall City Mechanical, CSM Group Inc., W.S. and Lois VanDalson Foundation, Miller Johnson PLC, and Josh and Pamela Weiner.
Many donors have given previously to Bronson and “stepped forward when we started studying this as a potential campaign a few years ago and said, ‘We’d like to be a part of it,’” Morrow said.
The Bronson Health Foundation exceeded the original goal to raise money for a rapid response fund even after doing a “very hard pivot” last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he said. The foundation raised $1.2 million that went for uses including buying ventilators and hospital beds and providing child care for frontline workers whose children were suddenly home from school.
Bronson Healthcare pursued development of the new Sardone cancer treatment center after the West Michigan Cancer Center and Institute for Blood Disorders — a partnership between Bronson and Ascension Borgess — decided in 2018 to transition medical oncology and infusion services to each hospital.
At Ascension Borgess, construction continues on the $20 million Ascension Medical Group Borgess Cancer Center on an 8.2-acre site near Stadium Drive and Drake Road in Oshtemo Township.