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Carroll County Times

Kahlert Foundation donates $5 million to Carroll Hospital Center for cancer facility

The name Kahlert will be displayed on Carroll Hospital Center's new cancer facility slated to be completed in mid-2014. That's because the Kahlert Foundation recently donated $5 million to the campaign, the only multi-million gift in the hospital's history.

The hospital's "Campaign to Cure & Comfort, Always" launched in March 2011 to improve five specific areas, according to campaign chairman Lee Primm. The campaign needs to raise $22 million through philanthropic donations, and the $5 million from the Taneytown-based Kahlert Foundation is considered the campaign's lead donation, he said.

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John Sernulka, Carroll Hospital Center's president and CEO, said in a news release that the hospital is honored the Kahlert Foundation chose to give so generously to the campaign.

"This gift will impact thousands of people in our community and will continue to shape the future of quality health care in Carroll County," Sernulka said.

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Greg Kahlert, the foundation's president, has experienced cancer's crippling effects firsthand. His father, William Kahlert, died last year from liver cancer - a disease he battled for about a dozen years, according to the news release. That's why he's making a gift to help with cancer and hospice care.

"The new cancer center is a very worthy cause," Greg Kahlert said in the release. "It will help thousands of local residents and for us, helping others to fight - and survive - cancer will be very rewarding."

The Kahlert Foundation donation launched the community-giving phase of the campaign. The previous donations were from Carroll Hospital Center employees, the board of directors, physicians and others affiliated with the hospital. Including the recent gift, the campaign has raised $15.5 million, according to Primm.

"It's amazing to see where we are and the degree of participation so far and the amount of interest we've had from our community," he said. "It's not unusual to be stopped on the street, and people want to have an update about what's happening at the hospital."

That's because a total of about $130 million is going to be funneled in to improving five key areas, he said. This is coming from the $22 million campaign, and the rest will be from the hospital's operating income, Primm said.

The primary component is building a new cancer center, which is slated to break ground in early spring 2013, Primm said.

"We're getting to the point where we've outgrown that completely," Primm said. "We're still serving our patients there very well, but we know that very shortly we'll need considerably more space."

The current, about 13,000-square-foot Carroll County Cancer Center, which the hospital acquired last year, has 11 infusion chairs for patients. The new one will have 18 and be about 23,000 square feet, according to Primm.

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Another focus is on cardiovascular diseases and strokes, which are two of the leading causes of death in Carroll County, according to the release. This would allow the hospital to expand its offerings on such treatments and develop clinics for congestive heart failure, diabetes and more.

Currently, Carroll Hospital Center is not reimbursed for all the hospice services it provides, according to Ellen Finnerty Myers, the hospital's chief development officer and vice president of marketing and external affairs.

Insurance and Medicare pays the hospital about 70 percent of that cost, leaving a gap in payment. Additionally, bereavement and spiritual support services aren't funded at all. This will change once the campaign is complete, as an endowment fund will be established to offset the cost, she said.

Additional improvements are to create a new community education and wellness center and to stay on the forefront of emerging information technology - such as improving electronic medical records.

"I feel the community recognizes the fact that this is their hospital," Primm said. "It belongs stock and barrel to the community, and they've always responded."


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