Doylestown Health – Friends of the Heart

The Friends of the Heart Institute is an all-volunteer organization, founded by heart attack survivors to benefit heart attack victims. Since its founding in 1978, Friends of the Heart has expanded its focus to include all aspects of cardiovascular treatments and surgeries. It also includes community outreach to educate people of all ages about cardiovascular health, beginning with junior high school students and continuing with a monthly “Walk With A Doc” event that begins with a brief 10-minute lecture on a condition or treatment, and is followed by a 1.5-mile walk around the hospital campus.

Overview

The Friends of the Heart Institute is an all-volunteer organization, founded by heart attack survivors to benefit heart attack victims. Since its founding in 1978, Friends of the Heart has expanded its focus to include all aspects of cardiovascular treatments and surgeries. It also includes community outreach to educate people of all ages about cardiovascular health, beginning with junior high school students and continuing with a monthly “Walk With A Doc” event that begins with a brief 10-minute lecture on a condition or treatment, and is followed by a 1.5-mile walk around the hospital campus.

Doylestown Hospital is a non-profit organization and relies on Friends of the Heart, not only for community outreach, but for the purchase of equipment and the funding of additional educational opportunities for physicians, physician assistants and nurses who work in the Heart Institute. The group allocated $180,000 in funds in 2016 for 15 items, ranging from an upgrade for the MARS Holter system to an HD camera for the surgical field. The group has donated more than $1.6 million since 1978. Friends of the Heart raises funds through annual membership dues (lifetime members contribute $10,000), direct donations, sponsorships and special events. The annual Heart Brunch is consistently sold out each spring, and a bi-annual Cardiac Cook-Off pits teams of cardiologists and chefs against each other in a fun-filled, healthy-eating event.

In addition to the Friends who look after the purchasing and placing of new equipment, a subset of Friends – Heart to Heart – are former cardiac patients who staff the waiting rooms and, when appropriate, visit patients while wearing uniform shirts and a universally friendly demeanor. Trained over years and by personal experience, they are partners in the care of patients and valuable contributors to the Heart Institute’s patient experience scores.

Impact

The Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital consistently ranks among those with the highest quality in the state and region, in part due to the assistance provided by Friends of the Heart Institute. According to data posted on HospitalCompare.hhs.gov by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, The Heart Institute was among the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. whose patients had the highest 30-day survivability rate after a heart attack in 2011, 2012 and 2013. While high quality continues to define The Heart Institute, advances in cardiovascular care throughout the nation make it difficult for a non-profit community hospital such as Doylestown to stand out. However, The Heart Institute continues to grow in the region because it is a low-cost, high-quality option in the competitive Southeastern Pennsylvania marketplace.

Lessons Learned

With the start of the Friends as the “$100 Heart Club,” the ongoing challenge to the organization was sustaining its success and the success of the Heart Institute as the cost of care delivery and technology increases. Annual membership is still $100; however, membership is extended to all who contribute less based on their ability and desire to become a member. The annual membership drive includes a series of letters and personal outreach by the Steering Committee. A lifetime membership with additional benefits was established early in the 2000s for a donation of $10,000, payable at once or over several years. To date, there are more than 50 lifetime members who enjoy a special annual gathering and who lend their voices to the direction of the organization. Events have expanded to include raffles and silent auctions to further enhance revenue.

Future Goals

The Friends established a new and dramatic goal in 2017: A $1 million contribution during the “quiet phase” of a capital campaign to build a new and expanded Heart and Vascular Institute on the Doylestown Hospital campus. Friends provided the first major pledge of $200,000 annually over five years, which supersedes its average annual contribution for programs and equipment. The Steering Committee unanimously accepted the challenge, confident in part due to the rapid growth of vascular services in the previous year and the Heart Institute’s rising profile as a destination center. Friends will be on the forefront of fundraising efforts for the campaign, but leaders also hope to raise additional funds to continue providing resources for “Walk with a Doc” and educational programs for all Heart Institute clinicians.

Contact: Karen Langley
Director of Volunteer Services
Telephone: 215-345-2567
Email: klangley@dh.org

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