A Bold Mission: A Message from Trig Solberg, HYF Board Chairman

I’ve been a Howard Young Foundation board member since 1996, was elected vice-chairman in 2010 and Chairman of the Board in 2011.  I also committed to serve as Chair of the Special Gift Initiative, because I wholeheartedly embrace the importance of having access to excellent cardiology and emergency care, as well as related services within the immediate community.  The goal of the Special Gift Initiative is to raise $30 million locally by the Foundation over the next 10 – 20 years and it will be matched by $30 million in grants from Ministry Health Care over the same time period. 

This journey is to transform and sustain healthcare in northern Wisconsin for generations to come.  Through a set of strategic donor-centered and community-focused philanthropy initiatives, the Foundation will ensure that physicians, associates, patients, friends and donors come together to fund the greatest needs and specific opportunities of Ministry Howard Young Health Care.  Additionally, philanthropy or charitable giving plays a big part in healthcare all over the United States, but it’s even more important in small communities like ours.

Philanthropy is a major factor in Lakeland area healthcare.  We were so fortunate to have a visionary philanthropist, Howard Young, who cherished the northwoods.  When Howard Young passed away, he not only left funds to build the hospital.  He set aside a separate trust fund which is managed and invested by a bank in New York, so the hospital can receive funds every year.  The hospital continues to benefit from his actions and that is his legacy.

The hospital is more than 30 years old and it’s in need of some capital-intensive equipment.  This comes at a time of decreasing government reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid patients, which doesn’t cover operational costs.  About 70% of our hospital’s patient base is covered by these government programs, which only cover a fraction of each patient’s bill.  There is a huge gap there, and the Howard Young trust covers some of the costs, but certainly not all of them.  There are just not enough funds to cover the difference and it’s always more of a struggle for hospitals in smaller communities.

Without the philanthropic efforts of the Howard Young Foundation, Howard Young Medical Center could well become a very limited-care facility.  There is a strong future need for the Foundation to exist to assist the hospital with necessary renovations and equipment needs.  Without the necessary investments to update the hospital, it will be difficult to recruit talented physicians and professional staff.  Our goal is to meet the needs of the community so our patients will not have to face going somewhere else for their healthcare. 

This incredibly worthwhile undertaking is dependent on the commitment of the entire community.  Lakeland area residents have been the beneficiaries of the generosity of their fellow citizens who understood how important it is to provide quality healthcare to people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay.  The physician pioneers in our community, Dr. Thomas Torpy and Dr. Kate Newcomb, in their combined 90+ years of serving the healthcare needs of our community, demonstrated true human healthcare philanthropy by serving the needs of all patients and rarely sending a bill.  They built a long-standing history of philanthropy by giving back to their community through charity care.  Dr. Kate was so revered by the community that in 1954, the local grade school dedicated their Million Penny Campaign fundraising effort to building a new hospital. 

As Chairman of the Howard Young Foundation and the Special Gift Initiative, I feel duty bound to embrace Howard Young’s philanthropic mission and vision of helping to provide access to quality healthcare for all members of the community who live, work and vacation here.  Please help us continue the generous philanthropic legacy by joining me in this journey to help advance the delivery of quality healthcare in northern Wisconsin for generations to come.