Hospitals that treated victims and rescue workers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are benefiting from America's generosity.
Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, parent of St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, which treated more than 1,100 people in its emergency room in Lower Manhattan, has received more than $1 million in unexpected gifts, says Mark Ackermann, the system's chief corporate services officer. The seven-hospital system expected to raise $20 million this year but will far exceed that. Ackermann says philanthropy will help to stabilize the hospital, which expects losses from the attacks to approach $20 million by year-end.
Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, whose burn unit treated victims of the Pentagon crash, has received more than $150,000 in unexpected gifts since the attacks. Officials expect much more. Normally, the hospital raises about $5 million annually.
Many of the healthcare gifts have come from nontraditional sources. For example, 869-bed Washington Hospital Center, which is part of Columbia, Md.-based MedStar Health, received a $25,000 pledge from a 4,000-population town in Alaska, as well as $100,000 from an anonymous contributor who had no previous connection to the hospital. "There has been phenomenal story after phenomenal story." says Gail Nordheimer, senior director of development at the hospital's foundation.
Both hospitals plan to highlight their roles after the attacks to raise more money.
Washington Hospital Center switched the focus of a direct-mail appeal scheduled for this month, and greatly increased its scope. Some 165,000 letters of appeal from a Pentagon survivor who was treated in the hospital's burn unit will be sent to prospective donors in the Washington area, rather than material highlighting cancer care as was previously planned. In past mailings, the hospital has sent as many as 20,000 letters.
"It's recognizing that people want to help the people of this community who were burned in the Pentagon, and perhaps would want to help the hospital that's serving them," Nordheimer says.
The Saint Vincent system is considering a campaign to raise about $10 million to fund ongoing grief counseling, and it will try to tap some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that has been received by private charities for Sept. 11 relief to fund its trauma, emergency and behavioral health services, Ackermann says. "I think we have a compelling case not only based on the work we've done to date but the work we'll do in the future," he says.
The situation is less clear at 149-bed NYU Downtown Hospital, which is three blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Its fund-raising department shut down in the wake of the disaster. A month after the attack, full telephone service had yet to be restored, says Kathleen Hill Zichy, senior vice president for corporate development.
The hospital canceled its annual benefit, scheduled for Nov. 5, and is asking past contributors to increase their gifts this year, Zichy says. "At a time when the hospital's financial situation is extremely fragile, we are also challenged on the fund-raising side," she says. Last year, the hospital raised about $9 million. This year, Zichy says, "I can't give any indication at all where we'll end up."
NYU Downtown reported nearly $3.5 million in direct costs such as overtime and emergency power to respond to the disaster. Since then, volume has declined because access to the area is difficult.
The hospital expects assistance from charities and government agencies, but there's no way to tell when it will arrive, Zichy says. "I'm looking at some of the deadlines for submission (of applications for assistance), and some of them are a couple of weeks out. We have an immediate critical situation," she says.