‘Ensuring a healthier, brighter tomorrow’: Wellstar Foundation making a difference

It’s a not-for-profit with a beneficent purpose

An institution since 1985, the Wellstar Foundation is a not-for-profit organization with Georgia community experience nearing a half-century. With all of that time, the foundation has learned a thing or two about making a difference.

“Backed by the support of our corporate and community partners, Wellstar Foundation is fueling action, innovation and access to quality health care and preventative services,” the foundation told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s a journey that involves our clinicians and team members, patients and individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations and community supporters — caring for our community takes all of us.

“We take pride in listening actively to what people want, need and expect from their health care; it’s how we’re able to provide ‘More than Healthcare. PeopleCare.’ at every age and stage.”

Lofty goals might be laudable, but they are not so easy to fulfil. To close the gap, the foundation is pulling together support wherever it can.

“We’re deepening relationships with technical colleges and universities to help build the health care pipeline of the future,” a representative said. “One of which is a partnership with Urban League of Greater Atlanta to support the Georgia Department of Labor’s YouthBuild Clinical Career Pathway program to address health care provider shortages in metro Atlanta and strengthen the nursing pipeline. This program has special focus on a career path for certified nursing assistants, creating opportunities within health care for economic mobility and diversity in the workforce.”

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Fueled by donations, the foundation’s graduate medical education programs have been able to provide “state-of-the-art simulators” and other equipment to ensure the best training possible for tomorrow’s health care workforce.

Through their mobile markets, the Wellstar Foundation uses its partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia to offer supplemental nutrition assistance programs to Georgia communities.

A member of the Literacy and Justice for All initiative, the foundation is also working to ensure every child can read by third grade. It’s a program promoting literacy across Marietta, with sights set across the state.

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From offering bilingual interpretation to community members in need of health care to creating behavioral health podcasts for teens facing growing suicide rates, the foundation is putting every cent of its donations to work for Georgia.

The Wellstar Foundation allocates 100% of its donations to its initiatives, which reached $5.76 million in 2020. Within the same year, the institution delivered 600,000 personal protective equipment and medical supplies, 300 tablets, 200,000 meals and $928,000 to fund health care workers combatting the coronavirus. In the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the foundation raised an additional $11.5 million.

As one of the foundations’ many donors, Paulding County’s Imogene Walraven Waldrop told Wellstar that she decided to step up after many of her loved ones died from illnesses.

“After witnessing both my brother and sister having to travel long distances to receive cancer care, I realized how critical it was to have these resources in Paulding,” Waldrop told Well star. “Through the Infusion Center and now the Trauma Center, Wellstar is making leading-edge health care available to people when and where they need it most — that’s something I’m happy to be a part of.”

Waldrop donated to the foundation through planned gifts, which allow donors to contribute to the causes that matter most to them.

“I have enjoyed working with the foundation and take pride in knowing that 100% of my gift will stay right here in Paulding,” she said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in my community that will benefit people now and the generations to come.”

While the foundation is making in impact on patients, Wellstar’s not-for-profit is also doing everything it can for its own health care workers.

With people at the heart of everything that we do, the Wellstar Foundation is investing in the development of our more than 24,000 health care workers and is tending to their needs through initiatives such as the employee-centered Wellness Rooms,” a representative said. “These Wellness Rooms were designed using innovative technology provided by Catalyst by Wellstar, strategic design implemented by Wellstar’s Employee Wellness group, and funded through Wellstar Foundation.

“These rooms have been open at locations across Wellstar since March, and survey results from the nurses, physicians and other Wellstar team members who have leveraged the self-care spaces show that 93% experienced positive improvements on their mental state after visiting a Wellness Room. With continued risk of burnout for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing ways for team members to deal with the stress, pressures and emotional intensity of their roles has never been more important.”

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Whether it’s arming health care heroes with everything they need to combat the pandemic or aiding Georgia’s communities directly, the mission is the same — health equity.

“Despite the pandemic slowing down some aspects of life, Georgia has remained one of the fastest-growing states in the U.S., with one of the nation’s most diverse population profiles,” the foundation said. “Yet, one of our biggest challenges is the ability to provide access to health care within our diverse communities — we rank 42nd in the nation for affordability of and access to health care services and providers. This increasing gap amplifies the critical need for investment in Georgia’s health care system to improve health and well-being for all, including addressing the health care workforce shortages intensified during the pandemic.”

“We’re expanding access to care and improving care delivery by investing in health care innovation,” the foundation said. “We’re investing in relationships with technical colleges and universities that fuel our health care workforce pipeline today and build the foundation for tomorrow. As the largest safety net health care system in the state, we understand the importance of health equity and how we play a part in expanding care beyond our walls, ensuring individuals have access to quality care at every age and stage of life, regardless of one’s ability to pay for their care. We’ve seen how the pandemic has impacted the mental health of so many of us, and we’re defining ways to integrate behavioral health with other health services to care for the whole person.”

To help achieve those goals, the foundation is gearing up for a trio of fundraising events. The annual Golf Classic and Clay Shoot are still on the docket this year. The Grand Gala, the largest annual fundraising event for the foundation, enjoyed significant success back in April.

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While the foundation’s annual events are proceed boosters, individual donations remain integral to Wellstar’s goals.

“Supporting Wellstar Foundation through donations helps us continue to meet our communities where they are in life and provide care that extends beyond our walls,” a representative said. “Donations to Wellstar Foundation have the capacity to go further as we invest 100% of every donation received into initiatives that create healthier communities — the same communities where we live, too.”

Within its 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, the not-for-profit identified six priorities for the future: access to health care, behavioral heath, food access and chronic disease management, housing, pediatrics, and women’s health.

Donations not only will help improve these six priorities, but will also provide emergency financial assistance to health care workers in times of unexpected need and fund educational scholarships for those workers.

Gifts to the Wellstar Foundation, which are tax-deductible, can be made online at wellstar.org/donate. For more information on how to get involved, email give@wellstar.org.