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Sure, You Know St. Elizabeth. You Should Also Know the St. E Foundation.

You’d be hard pressed to find someone in Northern Kentucky that hasn’t heard of St. Elizabeth. As the region’s largest medical provider, it seems everyone has visited a St. Elizabeth hospital or urgent care facility at one time or another. From the birth of our children, to the treating of everything from sprained ankles to open heart surgeries, St. Elizabeth Healthcare is “right around the corner”.  And as one of the region’s largest employers (over 7,000 employees throughout NKY), their engagement in the business community has been profound.

But I suspect most Northern Kentuckians have no idea about the role the St. Elizabeth Foundation, a part of St. Elizabeth Healthcare , plays in our community. That should change, as the foundation is critical to our collective well-being.  

Founded in 1989, the St. Elizabeth Foundation was created to connect with the community, and provide the funding necessary to assist St. Elizabeth in the programs and services they offer.  

You see, there is a gap between what St. Elizabeth takes in and what is actually needed.

I must admit, I was completely unaware of how big that gap was when I sat down with my friend Mary Lynn Brunemann, the new development director for the St. Elizabeth Foundation (SEF) who works with organizations and individual donors. As she described the foundation’s scope of work, I was blown away. “Just walk through any St. Elizabeth facility and you’ll see the impact of the foundation.” she told me. “From the bedside radios in the Hospice Center, to the CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit or Breast Center, much of what you see serving our community was paid for in some part by donations to the Foundation.”  

I had no idea that when our daughter was born, we received benefits from the foundation. For example, the lactation consultants, hearing tests for babies, and the blanket warmers were funded by the foundation.  

The foundation also provided funding for daVinci robots. These devices (St. Elizabeth has four of them) enable a surgeon to perform micro-movements of miniaturized instruments inside a patient. Because they are cutting less, and cutting more accurately, patients see significantly less pain, less blood loss, less scarring, and shorter recovery times.  

Thanks to the foundation, issues that used to take weeks to recover from, now take only days. That’s a collective savings for the entire community. Families get more time with their loved ones, businesses get employees back to work sooner, etc. Then there is the Dual Source CT scanner. Don’t know what that is? Don’t feel bad, neither did I. But according to Brunemann, “It blows every other imaging device out of the water, delivering 3-D images of your heart or brain—including blood flow—in less time than it takes for a heartbeat! It shows your heart’s blood flow in the coronary arteries without having to do an angiogram.”  

Again, devices like this translate into less pain, shorter recovery times, and better outcomes.  

There’s also initiatives funded by the foundation that are intended to provide more proactive health care for our community. Initiatives like the cardiovascular van. Brunemann explains, “It’s a mobile van that goes out into the community to perform vascular screens and EKG’s.”

There are just too many initiatives by the foundation to list them all here.  

But one new upcoming initiative that jumped out at me was the proposed Clinical Research Institute.  

Since Kentucky is the worst state in the nation for Cancer deaths (50th), it stands to reason that we will benefit tremendously from new and innovative approaches to treatment. The proposed clinical research institute (to be located in Edgewood) will bring clinical trials here that aren’t currently available in this region: Phase III clinical trials – medications, technology, devices not yet on the market, etc.

This will also help us recruit top notch medical professionals who, not only want to care for patients, but also want to do research.  

While Mary Lynn was extremely passionate about the work being done by the foundation, she is quick to remind me that, “If it weren’t for the generosity of the community, businesses, and individuals, the foundation wouldn’t exist. This work is a community effort designed to improve the health of us all.”

I hope you’ll help spread the word about the St. Elizabeth Foundation, and the difference it is making in our community. It is another hidden gem for our region. One that is critical to our well-being, whether we know it or not.

Brent Cooper is the president of C-Forward, an IT firm in Covington.