PeaceHealth looks to raise $10M for neurosciences care

Effort has already raised $2 million

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Foundation is launching a $10 million fundraising campaign Thursday to enhance neurosciences care at the Vancouver hospital.

The campaign is off to a good start, with nearly $2 million in pledges already recorded. The largest donation — $1.5 million — comes from Tom and Sandra Young of Vancouver.

The money will be used to enhance the hospital's neurosciences facilities and professional capabilities in a variety of ways, said Sy Johnson, chief executive officer of the PeaceHealth Columbia Network. The details are still being worked out, he said, but the money will help to expand the hospital's current neurosciences unit.

The new unit will be named the Thomas and Sandra Young Neurosciences Center, in honor of the couple's donation. The center will care for patients dealing with brain and spinal injuries, stroke, tumors and other neurological disorders.

Each year, PeaceHealth Southwest provides specialized inpatient neurologic care for as many as 2,700 patients.

"I think it's vital to have that kind of brain and spinal care in the community," said Tom Young, who founded Northwest National Bank and Regents Bank.

Tom Young said he and his wife know firsthand the importance of having a high-level facility and team to provide neurosciences care.

About three years ago, Sandra Young had a brain aneurysm rupture. The couple was on a plane descending for landing when Sandra was overcome with a severe headache. Doctors later discovered she had a brain aneurysm that had clotted.

Sandra was referred to PeaceHealth Southwest, where she underwent surgery.

"We went in there and had a great experience," Tom Young said. "And we realized the value of having a terrific neurosciences center close to home."

The longtime Vancouver residents have been involved in various community organizations, such as Goodwill Industries of Columbia Willamette and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington, but Sandra Young's treatment at the hospital resonated with the couple, Tom Young said.

That experience, and the care the Youngs' 18-year-old niece later received at the hospital, encouraged the Youngs to contribute to the neurosciences campaign, Tom Young said.

"We've got this great team of neurosurgeons there and we want to create a state-of-the-art facility," he said.

A few other local residents and groups also pledged their support prior to the official kickoff.

Camas residents Ronald and Theresa Prill have pledged $100,000; Rebound Orthopedics and Neurosurgery also pledged $100,000. Oregon Electric Group has pledged $250,000, which will be raised through annual golf tournaments over five years.

The work at PeaceHealth Southwest will be done in phases, Johnson said. Hospital officials hope to begin the first phase this fall. Additional phases will begin as funding is secured.

"Health care funding today is so constrained that we can't do these projects without philanthropic support," Johnson said. "We can't do this without them."

"I'm very grateful for the generous gifts and the support," he said.