by Marissa Lorenz
This past Saturday, the Middle Park Medical Foundation celebrated its 5th Annual Spring BASH fundraiser with over 200 attendees, including Middle Park Health (MPH) staff, supporters, and community members. The Foundation’s primary purpose, since 1991, has been to “ensure the future and financial stability of Kremmling Memorial Hospital.” And the BASH has grown into the Foundation’s largest fundraising event of the year. This year, guests were welcomed to Granby’s new River Run RV Resort event center with a cash bar, catered dinner, dance floor, and live music. They were invited to maximize donations, through both silent and live auctions. And they were introduced publicly to the new leadership of both the Foundation and Middle Park Health.
The evening began casually, with time for milling about, visiting with friends old and new, and browsing the select silent auction items, chosen with a “focus on experience,” explains Tiffany Freitag, Assistant Director of the Middle Park Medical Foundation. Items ranged from entertaining, like ticket packages to Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, to adventurous, such as an outerwear package with tickets to Kremmling’s new Bluebird Backcountry ski area and another for a backcountry Snowcat trip in Steamboat. Then a more formal atmosphere descended as dinner was served and Freitag presented Andy Radzavich, the Foundation’s first full-time executive director.
Radzavich, who has been in his position for just two months, explained that, though originally from Pennsylvania, he’d moved to Steamboat Springs 13 years ago. He described his background as in “surgical sales, medical marketing, and outdoor adventure guiding.” He and his wife moved to Grand County four years ago, and he said that he was “happy to be serving the community and hospital.”
The Foundation Director reviewed the previous success and rapid growth of the BASH event since its inaugural year, in which it raised $8,000. Just two years later, in 2018, the event raised $70,000, funds which were dedicated mainly to growing the orthopedic program, which is now “flourishing,” according to Radzavich. “We even have our own orthopedic surgeon now.” And last year saw $74,000 raised. “The 2020 goal,” he enthused, “is to beat last year. (…) We can do it, but we couldn’t do it without our guests, volunteers, donors, and sponsors. You’re a part of something special, a part of health care here, and you make everything we do possible.”
Radzavich then introduced Jason Cleckler, Chief Executive Officer of Middle Park Health, who is also just two months into his tenure at MPH. “I am lucky to be here,” Cleckler greeted the crowd. “This is a wonderful team. I’ve inherited people dedicated to providing quality health care to the community and its visitors.” He would recognize Dr. Tom Coburn in particular, “who’s gone above and beyond this past year, acting as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Interim CEO, while continuing shifts in the ER. He deserves credit not only for his work to keep the hospital successful but more importantly as a man truly dedicated to the health, welfare, and success of this community.”
Cleckler highlighted recent achievements for the Hospital District that took place in the last year, such as MPH taking over management of Cliffview Assisted Living Center, “which has brought stability to that facility”; the purchase of the former West Grand Middle School and its conversion into the Community Wellness Center and additional administrative offices; bringing on two full-time surgeons, one in general surgery and the other in orthopedics; and the opening of a primary care office in Grand Lake. “These continue our dedication to providing access to quality care and, more importantly these days, affordable quality care. We’re very dedicated to that and to access to care close to home.”
“Looking into the future,” Cleckler went on, “we’re really excited for MPH.” He noted capital improvements currently underway to remodel the hospital in Kremmling, expand the hospital in Granby, and build a new facility in the Fraser-Winter Park area. “Our goal is to create access points to care throughout the county.”
Elfriede Denaro represented the Foundation Board, which includes Chair Jeff Miller, Dave Hammer, and Chris Sammons of Kremmling; Neil Funk and Sue Coburn from the Fraser-Winter Park area; and Frank Delay and herself from the Granby-Grand Lake district. “We are all here because of MPH and all the work they do,” she praised. “Board members are so impressed with what goes on here and what continues to happen.”
She explained that 85% of monies raised by the foundation go directly to MPH for equipment and facility needs, while the remaining 15% is used for such things as event sponsorship and medical scholarships to MPH employees, high school students interested in the medical fields, and community residents who wish to follow the same path. “We want to continue your education. We want to ensure we’re getting the very best of what’s going on in the medical world.”
One 2019 scholarship awardee, Mabon Acord, a registered nurse at MPH since 2014 and lead nurse for the emergency and in-patient departments since 2019, spoke about what those scholarships can mean to a recipient. Acord offered her emotional story about finding her calling to health care after her now 11-year-old daughter was born without a soft spot in her skull or craniosynostosis, a scary name for a possibly scary condition. She describes that, after her daughter’s first skull- breaking surgery, the “nurses never left my side. They cared for my daughter like I desperately needed them to. I knew from that moment that I wanted to give the same comfort and help to others that those nurses gave to me.
She recounted her satisfaction with nursing–everyday we touch the lives of at least one person. I didn’t know that everyday my life would be touched as well. As nurses, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, body, and soul of our patient, their family, and even ourselves.” But she said that she never thought the financial burden of going back to school for her Bachelors of Science in Nursing would be worth it. Yet, with the support of a Foundation scholarship, she was able to accomplish what had once seemed unthinkable. “I believe in MPH. I believe in what we hope to achieve.
The evening ended with the live auction event, featuring trips to Cozumel and Belize, an Elk Hunt from Bear Mountain Ranch, a Yampa River Fly Fishing Trip, and sponsorships for scholarships at varying donor levels.
While the organizers will not have final numbers for the amount raised until after their annual meeting, “we consider it a great success,” said Freitag. “This year’s event brought together over 50 donors to our auctions, almost all locally donated, over 35 sponsors, our dedicated volunteers, and our guests.
Middle Park Medical Foundation could not be more pleased with the results and all the support. The support for MPH’s services and growth, especially support for staff through the scholarship fund, is really vital to the ongoing health and wellbeing of the Grand County community.
For more information on the Foundation, visit middleparkhealth. org. If you are interested in serving as a Board member, contact Andy Radzavich at aradzavich@ middleparkhealth.org for details.
by Marissa Lorenz