Andy Barton: Telling the Penrose-St. Francis story

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Andy Barton was born at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. His kids were born there, too. In a city where natives are hard to find, that makes him somewhat of a rare breed.

A month ago, Barton began to work for the hospital system, raising money through its foundation as the director of annual giving at Penrose. I spoke with him last week. Excerpts:

Does the economic climate affect your work?

I don’t think it’s going to be difficult at all. We have dedicated, life-long donors, who are really committed to the hospital. That mitigates the effects and the challenge of the economy. In this area, Penrose is one of those organizations that’s really seen as a benefit to the community. The hospital has benefited from the foundation’s work, people see that benefit.

What are some major projects funded by the Foundation?

Before I got here, the foundation paid for the Da Vinci surgical system, a state-of-the-art system designed for minimally invasive surgeries. In past years, the foundation paid for a digital mammography machine. The foundation is starting to pay for new Omni beds in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at St. Francis. That unit is seeing higher use than we expected, and our smallest patients definitely need the latest equipment.

As the director of annual giving, what are the challenges going forward?

I’ve been here about four weeks, so I’m working on a ‘What’s new for the week,’ philosophy. But I think we’ll be seeing some new kinds of fund-raising, and more emphasis on some of the programs we already have. For instance, I oversee an internal campaign that allows the associates to make a contribution to the fund, and that money goes back to the patients. That’s really what makes the program work — giving back to the patients in a different way. We also have the Halos for Heroes program that lets patients give a donation in the name of a provider. It’s a way to give credit to the providers for the things that take place here. I really like being the story-teller for that piece.

Are you worried the Penrose Foundation could get lost in the clamor for donations from other nonprofit groups?

It isn’t difficult. Penrose has a sterling reputation in the community, and a long heritage here. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see just how powerful it is to folks in the community. It’s exciting to see the level at which people care about this place. I’m fortunate to do development work for a place like this — to carry this story. People believe this is “their” hospital, they really feel a part of it.

Audio excerpt of the interview with Andy Barton.