Strong community support will push GHS past fund-raising goal

Overwhelming community support has already taken Greenville Health System to the cusp of meeting an $80 million philanthropy goal in its record-setting “Campaign for the Second Century: Transforming Health Care.” Funds raised through the campaign will strengthen clinical care programs and expand both academic and research programs.

“We are here to celebrate philanthropy and the historic impact it has had, and continues to have, in achieving our vision and mission,” said GHS president and CEO Mike Riordan at Friday’s Vision Partners Society celebration event.

Jerry Dempsey, campaign chairman and former chairman of the GHS Board of Trustees, Greenville icon and former CEO of several Fortune 500 companies, announced the $72 million breakthrough at Friday’s event. “We are already at 90% of our goal and will achieve our $80 million goal long before our originally announced completion date at the end of 2017.”

During last year alone, the campaign generated more than $19 million in strategic support. Additional significant donations continue to pour in, said Dempsey.

“Community support, vision and hard work started GHS in 1912, and it’s that same support, vision and hard work that has grown us into what we are today,” said Dempsey. “In the last century, Greenville citizens showed that they had the vision to transform a city. That same creativity, compassion and capability is taking GHS to a new level of service and accomplishment for the communities that we serve in Greenville, in the Upstate and in South Carolina and beyond,” he said.

“Like me, people believe that GHS is a great resource that we’re proud – and fortunate – to have in our own backyard,” said Dempsey. “GHS has transformed itself over the last 103 years from a small hospital in Greenville to the nation’s 100th Academic Health Center, where research and academics are coming together to provide constantly improving healthcare despite a climate of constant change.”

Programs already made possible through the extraordinary giving include the Rare Tumor Center; the Medical Experience Academy, a recognized pipeline program for healthcare careers; the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Clinic and the Children’s Hospital Seed Fund for Advanced Pediatrics. The campaign also targets scholarship support for top med students being recruited to the USC School of Medicine Greenville.

One need only look to GHS’ new medical school partnerships, innovative cancer research and therapies, progressive care for children with medically complex health conditions, advancements in neurologic and cardiac medicine and collaborations with leading-edge biotech companies as evidence of how healthcare delivery is being re-imagined in the Upstate, said Dempsey.

“The positive impact philanthropic dollars have had on local healthcare is terrific” said Riordan.

“And whether as a public or private not-for-profit academic health system, we’re committed to be a community-owned asset charged with protecting and stewarding the health of those we serve,” said Riordan. “Our commitment to the community will not change; GHS will continue to provide high quality, transformational care to all regardless of their ability to pay.”

Philanthropy helps create, grow and sustain important programs that may not have another funding source, said George Maynard III, GHS vice president of institutional advancement.

“It is this legacy of generosity that has allowed GHS to touch thousands of lives more than 100 years, and it is this generosity that will allow us to continue providing hope, healing and inspiration to those we serve in the future,” said Maynard.

“Giving enables us to transform the lives of our patients, but it also transforms the lives of our donors,” said Maynard. “No higher purpose exists than saving a life or restoring a sick person to health. Gifts to GHS make a profound difference for patients, their families and our region.”

Since GHS receives no financial assistance from local or state government, philanthropic support allows for investments that make additional high-quality, patient-centered care possible. Additionally, GHS provided more than $113 million in charity and government-sponsored health care in 2014 for those unable to pay for these services.

Also announced Friday night was this year’s recipient of the William King “BK” Bryan Spirit of Philanthropy Award – Jerry Dempsey and his late wife, Harriet.

“As former Chairman of the GHS Board of Trustees, Mr. Dempsey brought dedication, perspective and vision to this critical role. We are all grateful for his outstanding leadership and his commitment to transforming health care,” said Maynard.

Maynard praised the couple for the vital role they’ve played in Greenville but also elsewhere.

Mr. Dempsey, whose career included serving as CEO of several Fortune 500 companies, is an inductee of the Horatio Alger Distinguished Americans Society. Throughout his career and family moves, the Dempsey’s used their passion and skills to improve each community where they resided. The Dempseys also created numerous academic scholarships and awards at Clemson University, Winthrop University, John Hopkins School of Medicine and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. In 2015, they established the Harriet and Jerry Dempsey Clemson University/GHS Bio Engineering Professorship Award and established the Clemson University/GHS Industrial Engineering Professorship Award. In addition, Dempsey chaired the Class of ’54 Scholarship Fund at Clemson University.

Their $1 million gift to the Cancer Institute launched the nation’s first Rare Tumor Center, which is dedicated to the treatment and research of rare cancers, but they have also created a lasting legacy in Greenville through their involvement with First Presbyterian Church, Greenville Little Theater, Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Clarice Wilson Garden Club, Music Club of Greenville, Cancer Survivors Park, United Ministries, and GHS, said Maynard.

“I’m grateful to accept this BK Bryan Spirit of Philanthropy Award, and I’m honored to be in the same room with so many visionaries who are partners in transforming health care,” said Dempsey.

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