Hospital kicks off public phase of fund drive to help pay for new building

  • Published in Local News

LACONIA — When Justin Van Etten, the owner of Stewart's Ambulance Service, told a curious employee yesterday that he was wearing a coat and tie to attend the launch of LRGHealthcare's capital fundraising campaign, the employee replied "the hospital has taken care of us and we should take care of the hospital" and offered to make a personal contribution. Van Etten said that by the time he left Meredith for Laconia nearly half his employees had pledged donations.

Speaking to board ...

LACONIA — When Justin Van Etten, the owner of Stewart's Ambulance Service, told a curious employee yesterday that he was wearing a coat and tie to attend the launch of LRGHealthcare's capital fundraising campaign, the employee replied "the hospital has taken care of us and we should take care of the hospital" and offered to make a personal contribution. Van Etten said that by the time he left Meredith for Laconia nearly half his employees had pledged donations.

Speaking to board members, senior managers and major donors in the lobby of the hospital, Gil Schohan, co-chair of the campaign, said the "quiet phase" of the fundraising effort, which began in 2010,  has raised $2.9-million toward the target of "at least $4-million."

The funds will be applied to converting all patient rooms at both Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital to single rooms, which President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Clairmont said will reduce the risks of infection while  ensuring the privacy and comfort of  patients. In addition, at Lakes Region General Hospital the emergency department and endoscopy suite will be renovated and at Franklin Regional Hospital medical imaging technology will be upgraded and the dining room renovated. Furniture and furnishing at both hospitals will updated.

Since the fund drive began all LRGH's  trustees and senior managers as well as nearly 60-percent of the employees have pledged contributions. Providers and partners, like Stewart's Ambulance Service, have pledged $300,000 and all three local banks — Laconia Savings Bank, Franklin Savings Bank and Meredith Village Savings Bank — have made significant contributions.

Clairmont described the renovations as "not an option but a necessity. We are trying exceed the expectations people have of the care they receive here." Neither the continued weakness of the economy nor "the state's failure to meet its obligation to fund the Medicaid program," he said have diminished "our responsibility to meet the healthcare needs of the people in our community."