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Trustee of the Year, Small Hospitals: Daniel W. Farrell Jr.
Farrell Jr.

Trustee of the Year: Daniel W. Farrell Jr.-Small Hospitals

Close to his heart: Hospital's unique respite facility fills urgent need

By Linda Wilson
Posted: February 9, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

Daniel W. Farrell Jr.—board chairman at Defiance Regional (Ohio) Hospital—prefers to give of his time, talent and resources quietly and without fuss.

When asked to list his accomplishments as a trustee, Farrell, 68, quips, “Just learning all the terms.” He then adds, “I attribute the successes to the people who work there.”

But in 2011, when the hospital's management proposed a project close to his heart, Farrell took a very visible role.

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The project is a unique homelike facility on the hospital's campus that offers respite services for caregivers of disabled people between 16 and 40 years old, giving the teens and young adults a place to go for short stays.

Farrell and his wife, Sharon, offered to match the first $1 million raised toward the facility, named after their granddaughter, Kaitlyn, a special-needs teenager who has Rett syndrome and cannot walk or talk.

“It endorses the fact that, yes, there is a big need for it. It is real, and people are willing to open up their pocketbooks and help make that happen,” says Farrell, a retired entrepreneur who owned manufacturing businesses in aeronautics parts and medical devices and supplies, such as saw blades and splints.

As Gary Cates, the hospital's president, explains, “We announced the project at an annual golf pro-am fundraiser in June of 2011. A year later, at our event in 2012, we opened the doors to that facility,” named Kaitlyn's Cottage.

For Farrell's support of Kaitlyn's Cottage and his overall work at 35-bed Defiance Regional, he has been selected as the 2013 Trustee of the Year for a small hospital—those with fewer than 100 beds.

Farrell has been a trustee of Defiance Regional since 2004 and chairman since 2007. He also is a trustee for ProMedica, a Toledo, Ohio-based health system and parent organization for Defiance Regional, which was named to Modern Healthcare's 2012 list of the most profitable critical-access hospitals, with net income of $16.5 million.

Farrell is “a finance guy, so he gets the numbers,” says Cates, who often sits down with Farrell to talk through the “business pressure and dynamics” the hospital faces. But Farrell also “really has a genuine heart for people, and if you get to know Dan, a project like Kaitlyn's Cottage doesn't surprise you,” Cates says.

The cottage offers overnight and daytime respite services in a 4,500-square-foot facility with four bedrooms, a library, activity room and dining areas. Daytime activities include crafts, baking and music.

Services are offered on a sliding scale that “starts at zero. We don't ever want to be in a position to tell a family 'no' to services for financial reasons,” Cates says.

To date, the hospital has raised $2.1 million of the $2.8 million goal. A total of

$1.3 million of the donated funds financed construction, while the remainder has been allocated toward an endowment. The hospital contributed an additional $600,000 for roadwork and utilities.

The current operating budget for Kaitlyn's Cottage is $500,000, of which Cates estimates that the hospital will collect about $70,000 in fees from parents.

Kaitlyn's Cottage is very unusual, in the opinion of Jill Kagan, chairwoman of the National Respite Coalition, Annandale, Va. “I am not familiar with any other out-of-hospital respite, homelike facility that is located on a hospital campus,” Kagan says. She also notes that there are far fewer services nationally for the young-adult age group than there are for children or the elderly.

Kaitlyn's Cottage addresses several important barriers to respite services: Its services are affordable and it “gives families increased confidence—knowing that a hospital is close by, but it is still a homelike setting,” Kagan says.

While that is the message the hospital uses to promote Kaitlyn's Cottage, “It has not been easy. (Parents) don't necessarily trust anybody,” Farrell says. “It took a while for Kaitlyn to stay overnight there.”

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