Sick of the drive

Organization wants better health care on peninsula

Posted: Monday, October 30, 2006

In his first two months as Central Peninsula Health Foundation’s chief philanthropy officer, Peter Brennan said he has heard one message in particular loud and clear — people living on the peninsula want sick family members and friends to stay close to home while receiving the care they need.

In particular, Brennan said people would like to see improved services in three areas. Referring to a poll presented to the Central Peninsula General Hospital Board earlier this year, he said people living in the hospital’s service area would like more heart, cancer and dialysis health care services to become locally available, he said.

Patients needing care in these three areas do leave the peninsula more frequently than other patients to receive the services they require, said Ryan Smith, CPGH’s chief executive officer.

CPGH offers only limited cardiology services and does not offer radiation therapy or dialysis treatments.

In 2005, 2,938 people living in CPGH’s service area were admitted and discharged from a hospital in Alaska. Of those, 70 percent, or 2,068, went to CPGH. That percentage drops to just 39 percent when looking at just the patients who needed cardiological care.

Brennan said donors to the Central Peninsula Health Foundation hope to change this trend.

“Really what they want to do is help their families, their neighbors and their friends so they don’t have to make that trip to Anchorage,” he said.

The foundation, a nonprofit organization incorporated in early 2005, is still in its infancy, but has already begun making headway in its mission to raise philanthropic support for improving the availability and quality of health care on the central Kenai Peninsula. Since February approximately $100,000 in donations have been committed to the foundation.

The foundation is a separate organization, but its closest association is with Central Peninsula General Hospital, he said.

“We see the hospital as a great vehicle to impact the quality of care and depth and breath of services down here,” Brennan said.

As the organization grows it plans to support other local health care organizations as well, he said.

Trends in donations to hospital foundations nationwide suggest that communities are eager to see their health care systems expand, Smith said.

Charitable contributions to health care providers increased 16 percent to more than $7 billion in fiscal year 2005, he said. Individuals are providing more than 60 percent of the funds that are being raised.

“A foundation has the potential to really make sure that we continue to receive expanded services and state-of-the-art medical technology,” he said.

Patrice Kohl can be reached at

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