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Friends Foundation’s Black Tie Gala Celebrates Hospital’s 50th Anniversary

Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) hosted its Black Tie Gala on November 2, and by all accounts it was the most successful in its seven-year run — a fitting way to cap the hospital’s 50th anniversary year.

The gala is the signature event for the Friends Foundation, which is the fundraising arm for the hospital.

Foundation president Bruce Giesler presented a check for $100,000 to SGCMH CEO Tom Keim and hospital board president Rod Scherer.

“2019 marks the fourth year in a row that the Friends Foundation has been able to give over $100,000 to the hospital to enhance patient care,” Giesler said. “This year, we’ll conclude payments on the central monitoring system, totaling $96,000. The foundation is scheduled to complete payments on the surgical expansion in 2020 and the 3D mammography in 2021.

“These are just a few of the larger needs, however throughout the year, numerous requests from individual hospital departments are fulfilled, enabling hospital services to remain on the cutting edge of medicine and patient care.”

Giesler added that the foundation recently committed to fund a $75,000 telemedicine system over the next three years. This advanced technology directly connects the medical professionals at Cardinal Glennon Hospital with the SGCMH staff.

“The board is honored to serve the hospital and is excited to see it continue to grow for the next 50 years, and with your generous support, we’ll be able to do this,” Giesler said.  

Scherer, who received special recognition from Keim for 35 years of service on the board, thanked the Friends Foundation for its work.

“I remember in 1998, Larry Frankum approached the board about building an oncology wing in tribute to his wife who died of cancer,” Scherer said. “Three-hundred thousand dollars was raised, and the wing opened in 2000. That initiative morphed into the Friends Foundation in 2003.

“I want to thank the foundation for what they do. They have taken it to a completely new level, raising money for our emergency department capital campaign, the exterior and lobby facelift and much more. Now the friends have introduced the Legacy Campaign to help us fund the new medical office building. I also want to thank you for supporting the friends.  You’re the ones who come to our events and support this hospital.”

Keim also saluted the Friends Foundation for making a substantial impact on the hospital and allowing it to continue to grow to meet the healthcare needs of the Ste. Genevieve community and surrounding region.

“Unlike other small, community hospitals we did not settle for the status quo,” Keim said. “We set our course not to be just another rural hospital. We set our goals to be a strong, independent hospital to niche out services our community needed and to develop strong service lines to establish ourselves as a regional center of great care.”

He went on to acknowledge that the hospital’s medical staff is an integral part of its success.

“Many rural hospitals struggle to bring physicians to their community,” Keim said. “We’ve been able to build on a strong primary care base of physicians and mid-level providers. We are so blessed to have an incredible medical staff. Physicians who could truly practice anywhere in the country choose to practice right here in Ste. Genevieve.

“Our physicians have helped us create a culture of family, and these dedicated professionals are the backbone of the great care and compassion which makes our hospital a great facility.”

Keim pointed out that the hospital surpassed its record of surgeries, outpatient services and babies born into the community. Recent accolades have included being recognized by the state of Missouri for its opioid stewardship in the community and its oncology nursing team receiving the 2019 Oncology Nursing Society Excellence Award.

 “We don’t practice corporate medicine,” Keim said. “Our team and staff at the hospital are just incredible, and they continue to show me day in and day out.”

With the first 50 years of the hospital complete, Keim presented his vision for the future.

“What does the future look like at SGCMH?” he asked. “Small rural hospitals are becoming dinosaurs, but SGCMH will never be a dinosaur. We will remain a strong, independent hospital with your support. In March, we will open a new medical office building. And although we like to talk about new buildings, our greatest strength is and always will be our people who provide exceptional care by doing the little things that separate us from others. Patient care will always be our major focus and commitment.”

The new 37,000-square-foot, two-story building will feature a ground floor medical office building with 20 exam rooms, plus additional space to add nine more. It will also have a complete walk-in/drive-thru retail pharmacy. The upper level will be home to 21 private patient rooms plus an additional two private rooms that will serve a dual purpose for medical surgery patients and sleep studies.

The medical office building is on the backside of the emergency department, which will provide instant access from that department to patient rooms. The current medical surgery area will be converted to medical offices for women’s health services.

“Every hospital across this country depends on the support, donations, gifts and endowments to carry out their mission, just as this community did 50 years ago when the hospital came to life,” Keim said. “I encourage the community to be part of this hospital’s next 50 years and to leave your personal mark on this facility to shape the future of healthcare in Ste. Genevieve.”

Holli Ledbetter, Friends Foundation Director, thanked the many sponsors who made the event’s success possible.

Jordan Voss who provided the cocktail hour entertainment; Gina Otto and Trio Monaco provided the evening entertainment; and Tom Okenfuss served as auctioneer.

The Friends Foundation board is comprised of community members who donate their time and talents. The 13-member board includes Giesler, president; Bob Palmer, vice president; Mike Horrell, treasurer; Laurie Ebeling, secretary; Mary Odneal; Craig Ruble, MD; Jim Francis; Theresa Cavins, MD; Rob Walsh, MBA, MS, PhD, CRNA; Jan Loida; Matthew Bosner, MD; David Weber; and Scott Barley.

The Legacy Campaign is a fundraiser for Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital to help build the new medical office building. The campaign offers naming opportunities and engraved bricks for the outside courtyard. To learn more, contact Ledbetter at 573-883-7725 or e-mail

(Information in a release from Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital.)

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