peggy greenberg eisenhower health

The Force Field

Amassing unrestricted dollars from annual-giving donors meets the greatest needs.

Janice Kleinschmidt Current PSL, Health & Wellness

peggy greenberg eisenhower health

Longtime donor Peggy Greenberg has been giving to Eisenhower Health for four decades.

At the age of 102, Peggy Greenberg continued a personal tradition she and her late husband established some 40 years earlier: donating money to Eisenhower Health. Though she wears the crown of longevity, others share in a decades-long practice of contributing to the nonprofit organization’s annual-giving fund.

“We have tremendous, loyal donors who have given 20, 30, 40 years — and the hospital is turning 50 this year,” enthuses Laura Williamson, director of annual giving. “That money not only maintains what we are doing, but also moves us forward into areas of medicine that are cutting edge.”

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Laura Williamson, director of annual giving, says it’s important to appropriately recognize everyone who contributes.

Philanthropists with resources to make major contributions fund Eisenhower’s signature projects, such as medical-building construction bearing price tags in the tens of millions. Unrestricted dollars from annual giving can be used to augment that money, but more often fill less visually noticeable needs.

“The board and our CEO can make decisions to put those funds where they are needed,” Williamson says. “They can look at what services or care we could expand or develop. Sometimes it could be difficult to fundraise for those projects.

“The global pandemic offers the best example of when something happens and we need funds to spend however we deem appropriate,” she continues. “We required personal-protection equipment, heightened staffing, and traveling nurses. Unrestricted funds are very important in a situation where you have no way to foresee what is most needed for the health of the community.”

In the halcyon days before COVID-19, annual-giving funds aided Eisenhower Health in opening, maintaining, and upgrading equipment in specialty clinics and primary-care health centers.

“Every year we have to expand clinics or acquire new equipment for them,” says Eisenhower Health Foundation president Michael Landes. “Because the majority of our patients are enrolled in Medicare, we don’t get enough insurance money to create excellence, so we have to rely on unrestricted gifts for our greatest needs.”

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Eisenhower donors provide state-of-the-art equipment like the ViviScope confocal microscope, which allows for noninvasive skin biopsies.

“There’s always something in those realms that requires funding,” Williamson says. “One thing that makes Eisenhower different from a lot of hospitals is that, because it is not part of a hospital group or owned by an out-of-state conglomerate or chain, all the money local residents give stays here to benefit this community. Being independent means our leadership is able to take a hard look at the surrounding community and ask, ‘What is lacking?’

“We have about 1,500 households that are happy to put their contributions toward whatever is our biggest need,” she continues. “Most of them are grateful patients who wish to say thank you and pay it forward. Some people make annual six-figure gifts, but we also have a tremendous number of people who give at the $1,000 level. And we have people that give $10. We have donors who lack the ability to write a check in the amount they want to give once a year, but can spread it out and make monthly gifts.” Eisenhower Health recognizes all such contributors in an annual publication. Those donating $1,000 or more in any fiscal year can find their names on a donor wall installed this spring in a corridor off the lobby of the hospital’s Dennis and Phyllis Washington Building.

“It is important to recognize everyone who contributes in a spirit of community,” Williamson says. “My $100 may not do much in the grand scheme of things, but if you multiply that by 1,500 households, that’s when we can make something big happen. That’s how some projects come to fruition that may not otherwise.”

Circle of Stars

“A lot of our clinic’s success has to do with philanthropy,” says Keyan Matinpour, M.D., who was hired by Eisenhower Health to develop its only dermatology and Mohs surgery clinic.

Matinpour credits Eisenhower’s Circle of Stars donors with providing him two state-of-the-art pieces of equipment.

“The [Visiomed] digital dermatoscope is a handheld tool with magnification and polarized light that dramatically helps diagnose skin cancers,” he says of the $30,000 device. “The [ViviScope] confocal microscope allows us to biopsy the skin without cutting into it. Its laser creates a digital image of a lesion at a cellular-level resolution,” Matinpour adds, noting its FDA approval in 2018 and its $180,000 cost. “It can find melanoma at the earliest stage possible.”

Now in its third year, with a membership of 107, Circle of Stars donors represent a group of women who pool their resources and focus on one facet of healthcare annually.

“The first year, it was dermatology. Last year, it was cardiology and pulmonology. And this year, our focus is breast cancer and mammography,” says Deborah DeSantis, director for Circle of Stars.

Those women and others in Eisenhower’s annual-giving space clearly understand the maxim that there’s strength in numbers.

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