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Crystal Hinson Miller, chief philanthropy officer for Indiana University Health and president of the IU Health Foundation, is a national leader in healthcare philanthropy. Here, she shares her personal reflections, and in the video above, she and Dr. Jeff Bird talk about what the integration means for East Central Indiana.
When I joined the IU Health Foundation in January of 2017, one of the things on my early agenda was to visit every hospital in the IU Health system. My first stop: IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital (BMHF).
I remember it was a remarkably cold February day when I drove to Muncie to introduce myself and learn about Ball Memorial. I walked into the hospital knowing that visit would be the beginning of a new opportunity, one that would allow the complementary strengths of the Ball Memorial Hospital Foundation and the IU Health Foundation to work for the benefit of Muncie-area residents.
What I didn’t know is that it would be the beginning of a long journey leading to this month’s announced integration of the Ball Memorial Hospital Foundation into the IU Health Foundation. That’s not to say I didn’t think integration might be in the future. I knew from past experience and industry best practices that integrating the foundations affiliated with individual IU Health hospitals could make sense. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion when I made that first visit – as I would learn, in the minds of our team in Muncie, there was a deep desire to protect the role BMHF played in the health of the greater Delaware County region.
The good news is that the things that made the team in Muncie hesitate to immediately embrace integration are the very things that make them so good at their jobs: They care passionately about the people their hospital and foundation serve, and they see their charge as investing in the health of the community. How, they wondered, could they be sure that the needs of their community wouldn’t be lost within a larger IU Health Foundation agenda? How could they be certain that the level of investment in the lives of the people around them would be maintained?
The conversations that followed to understand and overcome those fears reinforced some basic values for me. First of all, I was reminded that trust can’t be assumed or forced; it must be patiently earned. I also recognized that two parties that care passionately about helping others but act on that passion in different ways must discover their shared values before they can connect. Finally, I could not ignore the fact that actions speak louder than words: As the IU Health Foundation delivered on promises and invested in IU Health’s Ball Memorial and Jay and Blackford hospitals, the number of IU Health East Central Region team members and community champions who supported the joining of our two organizations grew in numbers and support.
This month, as we complete this three-and-a-half-year journey, the benefits of merging our two foundations have been reinforced for me. With the IU Health Foundation team serving to centralize administrative and support functions, our team in Muncie will have more time to do what they do best: Know the community like no one else and engage its members in the philanthropy locally. In addition, we’re already seeing the benefits of our shared focus as one Foundation team, with the IU Health Foundation contributing to the community in ways that promise real impact. Earlier this year, the IU Health Foundation worked with partners on the ground in the East Central region to secure a $400,000 grant to improve maternal health outcomes in the region.
At the same time, the IU Health Foundation is hyper-focused on ensuring we maintain important relationships that have been key to the Ball Memorial Health Foundation. This was underscored when the Ball Brothers Foundation awarded the IU Health Foundation $75,000 to help support IU Health East Central Region team members who are fighting COVID-19 in Delaware, Jay and Blackford Counties. That connection has also generated another benefit: I am delighted to welcome Jud Fisher, president and CEO of the Ball Brothers Foundation, to the IU Health Foundation board.
The process of integrating Ball Memorial Hospital Foundation into the IU Health Foundation provided some key learnings on the process of uniting organizations and, specifically, about the team members in our East Central Region and the people they serve. It was a process rich in conversation, deliberation, and contemplation - but when the members of the board of the Ball Memorial Hospital Foundation voted unanimously in favor of integration, I knew that we had gained a group of loyal and passionate partners who will do all they can for their community. And that means we earned the opportunity to have an even greater impact for the community they - and we - love so well.
Read more from IU Health Foundation President Crystal Hinson Miller about the impact of philanthropy in her letters to the community.