Jennie Ed, CHI Mercy collaborate to receive COVID grant dollars

Sam Pimper | The Daily Nonpareil
February 13, 2021

Two health care facilities in Council Bluffs recently received sizable grants from the Iowa West Foundation and Pottawattamie County Community Foundation in an effort to mitigate issues stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs were each awarded $75,000 through the coordinating organization’s Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund that was jump-started last year shortly after the pandemic reached Iowa.

Both facilities applied for funding last year and received a comparable gift through the fund that assisted with immediate facility coronavirus needs, said Donna Dostal, president and CEO of the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation.

This wave of grant dollars, provided information shows, will help give hospitals additional treatment space specifically utilized by COVID patients, allow for the purchase of isolation equipment and supplies and expanded cardiac monitoring for COVID patients.

While each is its own unique entity, the two health care providers have a long history of collaboration, according to a news release. Fortunately, they have been especially unified in their provision of COVID-19 care. Unfortunately, that has also resulted in a mirror image of increased need for treatment space, as well as essential equipment since the pandemic began.

The health care facilities unifying and determining their own and collective needs to best support those suffering from the coronavirus has made a difference as they wade through the different phases of the pandemic, Dostal said.

“What’s so unique with the situation between Jennie Ed and Mercy is that they are in constant collaboration and communication with one another,” Dostal said during an interview with the Nonpareil. “So serving the needs of the community around this significant issue has been so difficult, but has really helped the community elevate to a level that I don’t think we’ve ever seen.”

Tara Slevin, vice president and chief philanthropy officer of the Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and Foundation, echoed Dostal’s sentiment regarding the importance of the facilities collaborating.

“From the very beginning, we sat down together to brainstorm ways to support our staff members as well as our community,” Slevin said. “The first few months we talked regularly as we partnered up to engage public health experts, funders and community partners. Looking ahead, I anticipate continuing to collaborate on matters that affect the health of our community.”

Abby Jares, development officer at CHI Health Mercy, noted how the process has been a major positive on their end, as well.

“The Jennie Ed team has been so wonderful to work with throughout COVID,” Jares said in a press release. “I have really enjoyed and valued the spirit of collaboration between our two health systems. We are all in this together and strive to work side-by-side for the betterment of southwest Iowa.”

Brenda Mainwaring, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, noted that through fundraising efforts IWF has been able to contribute about $1 million to the COVID Response Fund. Dostal added that her organization was able to raise another $700,000.

These dollars have gone to various Pottawattamie County entities — in addition to Jennie Edmundson and CHI Mercy — needing financial backing as a result of the pandemic.

Mainwaring noted that the nonprofits teaming up proved beneficial — both were able to complement the other utilizing their business strengths.

“This allowed us to leverage what we each do best,” Mainwaring told the Nonpareil. “Donna (Dostal) was able to bring in some funds from other donors, and then we could collectively sit down and talk about how a request would address the interest of the particular donor.”

In regard to Methodist Jennie Edmundson and CHI Mercy, both had streamlined visions of how their respective grant dollars would best be used. And much of that determination, Dostal said, came as a result of the open dialogue between representatives of the competing facilities.

“I think that is what makes this community unique, and this situation unique,” Dostal said. “When you have a situation that affects the entire community, for them to put any business differences aside really does illustrate the collaborative nature of our community as a whole.

“Their willingness to say, ‘Hey, I know that in the past we’ve had to compete and that’s just the way it is with free enterprise;’ to put that aside to best help the people they serve shows a lot.”