The Bethesda Foundation originated in 1974 to ensure that Bethesda’s hospital operations and related entities had the resources needed to meet health care challenges facing the large, growing community they served. Much of the Foundation's work in its early years was funding capital needs that helped Bethesda expand its hospital-based services. The Foundation accomplished this with two team members in an office on Oak Street. The list of organizations supported by the Foundation grew in the 1990’s, when Hospice of Cincinnati came under the Bethesda umbrella. Hospice care was still a relatively new idea at the time, and when the Bethesda Foundation helped raise $6 million for Hospice of Cincinnati in 1997, the funds were used to construct the Blue Ash Inpatient Care Center, only the second hospice inpatient care unit in the entire nation.
The number of organizations supported by the Foundation grew substantially in the 2000s. First, an independent organization called Fernside: A Center for Grieving Children joined with Hospice of Cincinnati; the Foundation therefore began fundraising for Fernside. Fernside is a nationally recognized resource for children and families who have lost a parent, sibling or loved one. It too was a cutting-edge organization, as it was only the nation’s second center for grieving children when it opened in 1986. In 2005, Bethesda Arrow Springs in Lebanon, Ohio, and in 2013, Bethesda Butler Hospital in Hamilton Ohio joined the Bethesda family. Both of these health centers also served as expansions of Bethesda’s existing Center for Abuse and Rape Emergency Services (CARES) program. All of these organizations use the financial support from the Bethesda Foundation for many types of patient experience services, indigent care, and operating support.
Today, the Foundation has grown to employ 15 in offices at Bethesda North, and continues to support the needs of Bethesda’s hospitals. In recent years, examples of Bethesda North projects completed as a result of Bethesda Foundation fundraising include: the nationally recognized Mary Jo Cropper Family Center for Breast Care; the Harold & Margret Thomas Level II Special Care Nursery, and a first in the region geriatric-friendly Emergency Department , which have all enhanced the reputation of Bethesda North Hospital as a regional leader.
The Foundation also disburses more than $1 million in grant funds annually in support of medical education and research, quality improvement, patient services, facilities, and community outreach programs provided by Bethesda Hospital and its related entities. Some of the impactful community outreach programs funded by grants from the Bethesda Foundation include: training for area Emergency Medical Technicians and Bethesda personnel using computer-based medical simulation; a subsidized emergency response system called TriHealth Home Connections for low income frail elderly seniors in our community; behavioral health programs presented in an urban school district and at Cincinnati Works job placement center; Think First for Your Baby, a program (in English and Spanish) to reduce infant mortality; and The Urban Health Project, an internship program offered through the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine to develop socially responsible physicians who are equipped to identify and improve the social determinants of health while working to decrease health disparities.
As healthcare has changed, the Bethesda Foundation has evolved into a dynamic organization to respond to the needs of the Bethesda entities it supports and the communities Bethesda serves.