Strong Foundations: McKeesport Hospital Foundation a Mon Valley Cornerstone

By: Eliana Latterman and Stephanie Stanley

This is the first in a series about the many hospital foundations that support UPMC’s mission to serve the community.

For 40 years, the McKeesport Hospital Foundation has remained a cornerstone of the Mon Valley Region, providing support for the community and UPMC McKeesport through grant funding, programming and other projects.

Heatherington Point is the foundation’s most recent project, one of its largest and most rewarding to date. Over the last decade, the board of directors of the McKeesport Hospital Foundation, in particular D. James Heatherington, former foundation board president and hospital board chair, has worked tirelessly to improve the environment surrounding the hospital campus. Finally, in 2015, the foundation’s vision became realizable with the purchase of 10 parcels on Fifth Avenue, directly across from the hospital’s D-Level entrance.

On Dec. 12, 2016, the finished surface-level parking lot, named in honor of Heatherington and his untiring efforts to advance this project for the benefit of all those connected to the hospital and the city, was unveiled and dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The pride the foundation takes in providing the hospital with a secure and beautifully landscaped parking lot and the city with a newly redesigned visual entrance is unparalleled. The completion of this project is simply one more way in which the foundation has worked to improve the health and well-being of local residents.

The foundation also supports local nonprofits whose mission aligns with its bylaws and goals — those that work to achieve that shared goal in a way that the foundation cannot accomplish on its own.

Similarly, the McKeesport Hospital Foundation supports UPMC McKeesport through its grant-giving process. Each year, the hospital’s administrative team presents one or more proposals for which it would like the foundation to provide financial backing. Normally, these grants go toward infrastructure, equipment and aesthetic upgrades throughout the facility. The next project, a two-year commitment, will help provide a much-improved “front” entrance to the hospital through the courtyard.

In addition to these sources of giving, the foundation also administers two annual scholarships, entrusted to the foundation by Betty Shaw Gamble and named for her parents, Walter and Virginia Shaw, for eligible nursing students from the St. Margaret School of Nursing.

The foundation’s final form of giving is through sponsorships. Throughout the year, it helps fund local organizations on a smaller scale by promoting and supporting their fundraising efforts with the goal of growing the available programming by those local organizations.

Beyond these traditional giving methods, the foundation is involved in several special projects and programs. For instance, the unique partnership between the foundation, UPMC McKeesport and the Lions Districts in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, formed the Lions Diabetes Center at UPMC McKeesport in 1993. Since its establishment, the center has become a source of diabetes education and treatment for those in need. The foundation’s role in all of this is to serve as the fiscal agent for this partnership, as well as to augment the Lions fundraising efforts through foundation-sponsored and -hosted events.

The foundation also coordinates and grants monies to a network of service organizations throughout the Mon Valley Region. This group, called the Mon River Fleet, is made up of four State Health Improvement Plan Partnerships, or SHIPs — one each focused on Braddock, Clairton, Duquesne and McKeesport. These SHIPs are made up of representatives from various nonprofits and service providers. They meet monthly to organize joint efforts that tackle the same issues they each work to impact daily. By joining forces and pulling resources, they aim to grow their impact exponentially.

One of the Mon River Fleet’s biggest programs is the annual flu vaccination initiative. They partner with approximately sixteen local EMS groups and the UPMC McKeesport pharmacy department to implement the initiative. In 2015, 6,555 vaccines were distributed for free to those in need, thereby ensuring better health throughout the region, and improving relations between the EMS groups and their communities.

This is just a glimpse at the work the McKeesport Hospital Foundation is proud to continue. Thanks to its innumerable and invaluable partners, the foundation has maintained its legacy of thoughtful community work and hopes to continue to do so with all of its future endeavors.