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PROGRESS: Donors step up to support Carson Tahoe foundation

Brian Duggan
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

The Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation is expecting to take in about $1 million this year in donations, which goes on to support the hospital’s cancer center, purchase new equipment and provide housing for cancer patients.

Michelle Schmitter, the development manager for the Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation, said donations will be about the same as 2008.

“We’ve been really successful in terms of fundraising because of this great group of donors that support the hospital,” Schmitter said, adding that local grants are on the rise, too, from foundations such as Mallory Foundation, Safeway Foundation and the Southwest Gas Foundation.

She said local grants range from $5,000 to $100,000.

CEO Ed Epperson said Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare has been working to help patients who’ve struggled with healthcare costs in the economic downturn.

As the economy began to suffer, Epperson said more and more patients were unable to pay their bills, resulting in new programs to discount bills by half in some cases and forgiving the entire cost in others. It also helped patients find out if they qualify for government programs such as Medicaid.

“We really began to see (the recession’s) impact ramp up on us in 2008,” Epperson said. “Especially the latter half.”

The hospital also offers discounted blood tests for those who qualify, saving them hundreds of dollars.

As for next year, Epperson said the hospital, which celebrated its four-year anniversary this month at its new location, will begin to invest in new medical technologies.

“We’ve had a good year in 2009, in 2010 we’re already going to start replacing hospital beds and IV pumps,” he said. “We’re going to invest in some technology, too.”

The Carson Tahoe Cancer Center, an outpatient center on the Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare campus, also provides free lodging for those who need it.

The center has two full-time oncology private practices that have medical technology such as 3D imaging.

“A lot more people from Carson are staying in Carson,” Epperson said. “It’s about providing those services so people don’t have to leave the area to get them.”

The Merriner Cottages, which include 15 residential suites at the cancer center, stem from a $2 million donation from the Merriner Family Trust with the stipulation that they be offered to patients for free who cannot afford local lodging while receiving treatment. Patients can stay there up to six weeks at a time.

“It’s very well known some number of patients who need cancer treatment that have to travel won’t do it,” Epperson said, adding the cottage at the oncology center also accepts donations.