Published on July 31, 2017

Celebrating 25 Years

Foundation “Bridges the Gap” as Hospital Needs Grow

One of the first projects the Johnston Health Foundation tackled after establishing itself in 1992 was equipping the future cardiopulmonary rehab center with treadmills and exercise bikes. At the grand opening of the center six years later, the foundation presented a $50,000 check for the cause.

It was indeed a proud moment for the fledgling nonprofit.

“When you start something new, you don’t know quite where it’s going,” says John Hobart of Smithfield, who was the first foundation board chairman. “It was a pleasure to serve in those early years, and to see the hospital progress.”

Today, with heart disease in Johnston County flagged as the number-one killer, the foundation’s efforts are becoming even more impactful as it assists with the care and treatment of patients with the chronic disease.

*Pictured above-Back in 1998, Sue Bryant, at far right, showed employees Jamie Williams, Evelyn Shepard, Beth Edwards and Debbie Denning (seated) some of the new exercise equipment during an employee open house held before the center opened.

Last year, it raised $375,000 to equip the hospital’s larger, more efficient cath lab. And in September, the foundation will launch a heart fund to assist cardiopulmonary patients with medical expenses related to their treatment and recovery. Through an existing patient assistance fund, the foundation is already helping many of those patients.

As the foundation marks its 25th anniversary this year, donors, hospital leaders and past and present board members have much to celebrate. In November, they’ll join together in reminiscing during a Silver Anniversary event.

Through the years, there have been projects as small as the player piano in the Johnston Medical Mall and as large as the $3.8 million inpatient SECU Hospice House. Also, projects as critical to patient care as the 3D mammography systems, and as welcome as the addition of safe, private rooms for patients seeking behavioral health care in the Smithfield emergency department.

In recent years, the foundation has taken on fundraising, too, for programs that assist patients who are battling cancer and in hospice care. And it’s funding scholarships to the Healthy Kids program, where at-risk children learn how to lead more healthful lives.

Along the way, Johnston Health employees, physicians and volunteers have contributed to the foundation’s success. They are key to running the Johnston Health Champions 5 and 10K, for example, and have contributed generously to capital campaigns.

As its first project, the Johnston Health Foundation raised $50,000 for the first cardiac rehab center, which was located on the hospital’s ground floor. At right, past chair John Hobart and chair Eddie Thorndyke present the check to Mariea Gregory, rehab center director, and Sue Bryant, exercise specialist.

In recent years, the foundation has put a greater emphasis, too, on reaching out to the community, and asking local businesses and industries to sponsor, support and participate in foundation events and campaigns.

“The population explosion in the western part of the county has wrought tremendous change through the years. And our hospital’s expansion into Clayton, and, more recently, the affiliation with UNC Health Care, have brought about even more change,” Hobart says.

“Twenty-five years ago, the foundation was just beginning. And just like a child, we had to learn to crawl before we could walk and then run,” he says. “And look how far we’ve come.

“The foundation has made many lasting contributions to the progressive development of Johnston Health. We are part of an organization that is growing, innovating and giving back. And I think that’s just terrific,” he says.

For more on the foundation or to learn about upcoming Silver Anniversary events, click here.