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LMHEA Milestones

Lawrence Memorial Hosptital History Picture

1921 - Lawrence Memorial Hospital Opens in a Renovated House

On January 17, 1921, Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) first opened its doors at Third and Maine streets in a renovated frame house. To fill a community need, the Social Service League and the City Commission started LMH as a not-for-profit municipal hospital.

1929 - Original 50-Bed Hospital Building Constructed

Lawrence Memorial Hospital History Image

Less than 10 years after LMH first opened its doors, Elizabeth Miller Watkins funded the construction of LMH's original 50-bed building, which opened in 1929 and was the pride of the community. To accommodate a growing number of patients, additions were added to the building in 1937, 1956, 1969 and 2009.

1969 - Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association Began

Over the years, hospital administration worked to acquire property around the building. Because of the hospital's not-for-profit constraints, it did not have the ability to carry funds over from one year to another. As a result, once land became available for sale, LMH did not have enough accumulated money to purchase it.

Donations and bequests were occasionally given to the hospital by grateful patients, but the funds were kept in an informal memorial fund that was exhausted each year. Organizing an endowment association became the most logical option to remedy the hospital's need, especially with the successful example set by the Kansas University Endowment Association. When Dr. Phillip Godwin was LMH chief of staff in the late 1960s, he contacted KU Endowment President Dolph Simons, Sr., for advice. Mr. Simons agreed to help facilitate the process of starting an endowment for LMH.

From 1965 to 1969, planning and legal opinions were explored. Five community leaders stepped up as founders, each with the shared interest of seeing that the community hospital benefited most efficiently from its gifts and donations.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association (LMHEA) was incorporated by Dr. Monti Belot, an internist; Anne “Petey” Cerf, an involved and generous community member; Dr. Phillip Godwin, an anesthesiologist and family physician; Dr. Laurence Price, a pathologist; and Dr. Ralph R. Reed, an internist. On October 22, 1969, LMHEA began its corporate existence.

LMHEA was, and still is, a separate organization from the hospital, though its policies are guided by the mission of the hospital. Like the hospital, LMHEA is a not-for-profit corporation. Its founding purpose was to facilitate the contribution of funds to further the advancement of LMH services and facilities. To this day, LMHEA has stayed true to its original intent.

1970 - LMHEA's First Annual Meeting

Lawrence Memorial Hospital 1st Annual Meeting

LMHEA began with a five-member Board of Directors and a 15-member Board of Governors, all of whom were elected by the incorporators at the first annual meeting on February 2, 1970. The two-board system of 20 positions was established to encourage broad awareness throughout the community.

The Board of Directors was responsible for all management of LMHEA, though the directors did not vote. In addition to the five members, the LMH Chief of Staff and one member of the LMH Board of Trustees served as ex-officio members of the Board. This was later changed to the CEO of the hospital and a representative of the LMH Board of Trustees as the ex-officio members.

The Board of Governors served as the voting body. The Governors were responsible for electing new members to replace those on both boards whose terms had expired. Generally, they recruited community members who were interested in the hospital and had a working knowledge of finances.

1975 - LMHEA Received the First Two Major Donations

Money donated to the hospital prior to LMHEA's beginning was held in a gift and memorial fund. This money was transferred to the fund and made up its first investments. In 1975, LMHEA received its first two major donations. The Lawrence Women's Club gave its unused building and property on the northwest corner of 20th and Massachusetts streets, and the Combest family left LMHEA half of a 160-acre farm through a bequest. LMHEA then sold the properties, the farm by sealed bids, and made its first award to LMH of $35,000 to buy equipment for its new hospital building.

In its early years, LMHEA worked to raise funds primarily by spreading awareness. This was done by sending letters and hosting luncheons for area attorneys, who could assist community philanthropy by suggesting to clients that they remember the hospital in their wills. LMHEA also hosted auctions to raise money, auctioning items donated for the events.

1982 - LMHEA Hosted the First Penny Jones Golf Tournament

Lawrence Memorial Hospital First Penny Golf Tournament

In 1982 LMHEA hosted the first annual Penny Jones Golf Tournament, its first and longest-running fundraising event. The tournament was named in honor of Dr. H. Penfield Jones, a long-time Lawrence physician. The event continues to be held annually at Alvamar Golf and Country Club and brings in more contributions each successive year. You can learn more about the Penny Jones Tournament in the events section.

1992 - First fundraiser For Breast Cancer Awareness Took Place

In October 1992, a fund raising walk was held to educate the community about breast cancer. But because of weather concerns, it was decided to bring the event indoors. October 1993 marked the first annual Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer dance. This event raises money for women unable to afford mammograms. You can learn more about Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer in the events section.

1992 - LMHEA's Assets Grew to $1 Million

Lawrence Memorial Hospital First Fundraiser for Breast Cancer

In 1984 LMHEA was worth approximately $65,000. By 1987 its fund had grown to $500,000, all of which was conservatively invested in certificates of deposit. Around this time, LMHEA changed its investment strategy and invested in mutual funds, stocks and bonds. By November 1992, LMHEA's assets had grown to $1 million, a long-awaited goal. Half of the income from LMHEA's investments was distributed to the hospital each year for equipment, education and other projects. LMHEA's funds have never been used for operating expenses of the hospital and the investments have been professionally managed.

1994 - LMH and LMHEA Fight for Not-For-Profit Health Care

In 1994 a national health care provider came to Lawrence with the intention of purchasing LMH. Representatives from both the national provider and LMH spoke at public forums hosted by the hospital, and loyalties were split between members of the community – many wanted to keep their community hospital, but others welcomed the established health care chain to Lawrence.

Sticking to the values of a true community-minded organization, LMH administration sent the message that its hospital was not for sale. The administration stood by the philosophy that health care should be not-for-profit. In response the national health care representatives soon announced they were going to build a hospital of their own. They first built a Surgery Center at Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive, but they did not proceed any further.

At the risk of losing LMH, this stir in the community raised much awareness of the hospital. LMH had been complacent as the only hospital in town, but the national provider's presence changed that. The community became interested in understanding the hospital better than it had before.

The other benefit that came out of the national provider's presence in Lawrence was the opening of LMH South. In 1999, the out-patient facility took over the space that the national provider once occupied. LMHEA has assisted LMH South by purchasing two colonoscope instruments and a 12-lead EKG machine.

1997 - LMHEA Restructured

Lawrence Medical Hospital EA Restructured

In 1997 LMHEA restructured its organization in order to increase business efficiency and communication. This process left only the Board of Directors, its number of positions increasing to 12.

In 1998 LMHEA hired Kathy Clausing-Willis as vice president and chief development officer, its first full-time staff member. Since then, her devotion to LMHEA development has led to a significant increase in gifts to the hospital.

Prior to 1999, LMHEA gifted an average of $20,000 annually to LMH; in 1999 that amount increased to $286,585.

1999 - First Hearts of Gold Ball Held

Lawrence Memorial Hospital First Hearts of Gold Ball

In 1999, at Willis' lead, LMHEA held its first biannual Hearts of Gold Ball. The Ball was created by a group of dedicated volunteers in response to an opportunity to host the only black tie event in Lawrence and the need to raise awareness of LMH as a not-for-profit charitable hospital. Growing larger each year, the Ball involves hundreds of volunteers and over a thousand participants. Each event has raised money for a specific need at the hospital. In 2003 it was held in honor of Bob Billings, a popular Lawrence philanthropist and 13-year LMHEA Board of Governors member. He served as board president in 1989. The 2003 Ball brought in an unprecedented $440,000, as many community members stepped forward to recognize his admirable service to the community. The money raised helped fund the Bob Billings Cardiac Evaluation Center at the hospital.

2003 - LMHEA Assets Reach Over $4 Million

With these assets, in recent years, LMHEA has funded a renovation of the pediatric unit, LMH lab equipment, palliative care, continuing education for LMH associates, and much, much more. Money raised by interest from the endowed funds is distributed throughout the hospital according to a contributor's wish or as requested by LMH administration. Decisions for LMHEA are determined by the majority vote of its Board of Directors, which was increased to 15 members in 2003.

2007 - LMHEA Raises $8.1 Million for LMH Expansion

Lawrence Memorial Hospital Raises $8.1 Million for Expansion

The three-year, $45 million expansion project at LMH allowed for the growth of many critical hospital services. This project included:
  • Expanded Intensive Care and Critical Care Unit
  • New Simons Center for Emergency Medicine (Emergency Department)
  • New Surgical Services Center
  • Expanded Family Birthing Center
  • Mechanical upgrades
  • Transition to all private rooms

2009 - Cardiovascular Specialists of Lawrence Opens

On November 1, the LMH-affiliated practice, Cardiovascular Specialists of Lawrence opened. Four cardiologists that had been serving the Douglas County region through the Lawrence office of Cardiovascular Consultants, P.A. agreed to join LMH- John Hiebert, MD, Michael Zabel, MD, Michael Hajdu, MD and Roger Dreiling, MD. A fifth cardiologist, Tapas Ghose, MD, joined the practice in December. This new relationship will provide the Douglas County region with 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year interventional cardiology care.

2014 - LMHEA Assets Surpass $10 Million

Architect's rendering of new rehab gym.Money raised by interest from the endowed funds is distributed throughout Lawrence Memorial Hospital, according to a contributor's wish or as requested by LMH administration. Decisions for LMHEA are determined by the majority vote of its 18-member Board of Directors. In 2014, LMH Endowment Association undertook a major fund-raising project for the renovation of the Fourth Floor of LMH. That project, which will cost more than $4 million, will include a complete renovation of the floor, which is LMH's largest and is home to two in-patient rehabilitation units. Work on the Fourth Floor will begin in summer 2015 and will stretch into 2016.