Episode 2: Amy Burns of the Stormont Vail Foundation

Transcription

Clint Patty:

Well, hello there. Welcome to Investing in Good, a podcast that shines a spotlight on those making a profound impact within Northeast Kansas. This podcast is proudly presented by Clayton Wealth Partners, your partner in philanthropic financial planning for individual donors and investment management for endowments, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. In each episode, we’re going to sit down with the remarkable leaders and dedicated workers of nonprofits across the State of Kansas.

We are going to delve deep into their noble endeavors. We’re going to listen to their stories, learn about their causes, and talk about the challenges that they have in making the lives of Kansans better each and every day. We are talking about good causes being done by great people. Stay tuned now as we delve into our next inspiring story on Investing in Good. And welcome back to Investing in Good, sponsored by Clayton Wealth Partners. I’m Clint Patty, the managing partner at Clayton Wealth Partners. And today, for our second guest, I’m very happy to have an old… I shouldn’t say them. I’m not going to use the word old. I’m going to say a friend for some time-

Amy Burns:

That’s true.

Clint Patty:

… as Amy and I went to law school together many moons ago. I have here with me the President of Stormont Vail Foundation, Amy Burns. Amy, welcome.

Amy Burns:

Thank you so much for having me.

Clint Patty:

If you wouldn’t mind, give our audience just a little bit of your background. I know you’ve been around Topeka probably about as long as I have and serving largely in the nonprofit world, so tell us a little bit about that.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. I came to Topeka from Atchison to go to undergrad and then stayed for law school. And after law school, worked for Family Service and Guidance Center for 14 years, for Junior Achievement of Kansas for almost five, and then came to Stormont Vail Foundation six years ago. So really enjoying the nonprofit world in Topeka.

Clint Patty:

So, Amy, you’ve worked for some great organizations throughout Topeka since you’ve been out of law school. Tell us a little bit about your role at Stormont Vail Foundation right now and what the overall mission of the foundation is.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. Well, I lead the foundation at Stormont Vail, and our role is to ensure that everyone in the health system has the things that they need to help our patients get well and stay well, and we support Stormont Vail’s mission of improving the health of our communities.

Clint Patty:

Can you give us a couple of specifics about how Stormont Vail does that within its mission? What specifically are you out there in the community helping with?

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. We help with a wide variety of needs at both of our hospitals and our clinics throughout the system. We provide for patient care assistance, so we’re able to underwrite the cost of durable medical equipment and prescription medication, transportation to and from appointments. We also help underwrite the cost of scholarships. So we’ve all heard about the shortage of workers in every area, but in healthcare, you can’t just close early because you don’t have enough employees.

So we are working to provide scholarships to help people get through their education in every medical field. So we’re working with all of our area universities and technical colleges to do that. We also provide for continuing education for our employees so that we continue to always provide the highest quality healthcare. And then we’re able to underwrite the cost of programs and services and equipment and just things needed throughout the health system.

Clint Patty:

So I want to go back a little bit to when you talked earlier about helping with scholarships and assistance. Is that just with, I’m assuming, nursing because that’s a critical shortage right now among all hospitals, but does that extend out beyond nursing as far as that assistance goes?

Amy Burns:

It absolutely does. We are able to help people who would like to be surgical techs or radiological techs, CNAs, LPNs, you name it. Really, throughout the health system, there’s a need in every area, and we are working. There’s… Everyone in the health system’s job is to ensure that we are working on workforce issues and anyone that can help is helping.

Clint Patty:

So talk about how you go about raising money to help fund some of these needs that are pretty critical within our healthcare system.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. We are so lucky to live in such a philanthropic community, such a giving community. People are genuinely interested in ensuring that we have the latest and greatest equipment that we are able to provide for care for those throughout our system who may or may not be able to pay for their own care. We just have a very giving community. We have an event every year, our golf tournament, that helps raise funds for whatever the thing is that we are focused on every year, whatever the need is. And-

Clint Patty:

This year it was…

Amy Burns:

Yes, this year it was our Cardiovascular Procedure Center.

Clint Patty:

Right.

Amy Burns:

So we provide tremendous care there. And the need for space has just really changed because it used to be that anyone who had a cardiovascular procedure was in the hospital for not just days but maybe weeks, and now things have changed. So many, many procedures are able to be done by going through the radial artery in a person’s arm.

Clint Patty:

Right.

Amy Burns:

And so we need different space. We need recovery space where people can sit up and continue to work and enjoy time with their families while they’re recovering for a few hours, and then they’re able to leave. So people can have a stent placed and then leave later on that day. So we really need… We’re just creating the space to reflect the level of care that they’re receiving.

Clint Patty:

I saw that presentation during the golf tournament, and I was sort of blown away that these are pretty complex heart procedures that they’re telling you you can be out the same day.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. You can have a heart valve replaced and leave the same or the next day. It is just-

Clint Patty:

Unbelievable.

Amy Burns:

It is. It’s amazing.

Clint Patty:

And that golf tournament, I tell people who’ve not experienced the Stormont Vail golf tournament. It’s like any golf tournament you’ve ever been to, except on steroids. I don’t think… Steroids, by the way, Dr. Carnegie, not endorsed by anyone in this podcast. But just an incredible amount of participation from the community. And correct me if I’m wrong, more than $200,000 raised in that one-day tournament.

Amy Burns:

Yes, over 250,000 even.

Clint Patty:

That’s pretty extraordinary. And this is the kind of thing that happens every year.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. We just have a genuinely caring community that really wants to help us, and people understand what it means to have a local nonprofit hospital. Why that’s important. And so they’re willing to come out and support us and know that we make big investments in the community, and they want to support that.

Clint Patty:

So talk about the separation of Stormont Vail Foundation the nonprofit, from Stormont Vail Hospital the nonprofit, how those two are related, and how they’re the same and how they’re different.

Amy Burns:

Sure. So we are our own 501(C)(3), but our mission is a hundred percent to support the mission of Stormont Vail Health and all of our Cotton O’Neil clinics.

Clint Patty:

I want to go back to something you said earlier. You talked about the foundation’s ability to purchase equipment that’s critical for care. Can you give a couple of examples? I can think of one for sure that was purchased a few years ago that was a tremendous help among a certain populace. But talk about some of the equipment that you’ve, through the foundation, have been able to purchase that has made care better in this community.

Amy Burns:

Sure. Well, we really have a wide variety of things that we do. We purchased some new carts for our trauma department that… it was better for our patients because it didn’t involve lifting of patients who were in trauma. It was better for our staff because we didn’t have to have staff lifting patients. So we kind of… we really hear what the needs are, and then we work to meet those.

Clint Patty:

Right.

Amy Burns:

We’ve purchased a lot… several of our simulators.

Clint Patty:

Those simulators are incredible for people who haven’t seen them.

Amy Burns:

They really are. They’re so lifelike, and they give our staff the opportunity to practice in very high-stress scenarios in a situation where, if they feel nervous, if they feel like they might make a mistake. This is the place to make it. This is the place to get it corrected, and this is the place to practice so that when the real emergency comes in or the real situation, you need to be able to react in, it’s like you’ve done it already several times.

Clint Patty:

Right.

Amy Burns:

So we use those simulators all the time with our team members. And we also have… We collaborate with other community organizations like the one 90th Air Refueling Wings medical team. So they get to come in and practice on our simulators, and our simulation team teaches them as well.

Clint Patty:

That led exactly to my next question. I was going to ask you about the community partnerships that you have, who you work with within the community to help further the mission of Stormont Vail.

Amy Burns:

Sure. Well, we know that we can’t be all things to all people and that there are very important nonprofits throughout our region and that are working very hard to fulfill their missions. And so we work with other nonprofits. Because we are so familiar with the nonprofits, we are… we manage Stormont Vail’s charitable contributions.

And so, every year, we support over 50 organizations, nonprofit organizations throughout our area with charitable funding. But in addition to that, we have team members that collaborate with people throughout the community. We have… There’s probably not a nonprofit that doesn’t have some collaboration with Stormont Vail or our shared patients.

Clint Patty:

And I’ve seen some of these lists, but this is… I mean, give us an idea of the number of organizations that Stormont Vail Foundation funds every year.

Amy Burns:

Over 50 every year.

Clint Patty:

In dollar amounts we’re talking about how much?

Amy Burns:

Oh gosh, we are between 200 and $500,000.

Clint Patty:

And if I’m an organization out there that thinks that it has a need that maybe Stormont Vail Foundation can help with, how do I reach out to you to get that in front of you to consider?

Amy Burns:

Sure. So we have two annual deadlines. So one just passed November 1st to submit an application, and then we’ll have another one on May 1st. So nonprofit organizations are able to apply. Just to make sure that everyone understands that these are charitable dollars that Stormont Vail takes from the profits that we make and reinvest in our community organizations. They’re not our donor dollars. We just manage those charitable dollars for the health system.

Clint Patty:

Okay. And you said you had the first deadline. Is there a second deadline then?

Amy Burns:

Yes, May 1st.

Clint Patty:

May 1st.

Amy Burns:

So anyone who did not apply before November 1st is eligible to apply by May 1st for any money requested in 2024. We will send the application out, so if someone would like to be included to receive that application, they can just contact the foundation office, and we’ll add them to that email list to receive those applications.

Clint Patty:

And that phone number is…

Amy Burns:

(785)354-6851.

Clint Patty:

Perfect. Talk about donor engagement. You talked about the difference between how dollars are separated there between donor dollars and dollars that come otherwise from the hospital. How do you go about donor engagement? How do those who might be interested in donating to the hospital? I know that a number of people who owe their lives, frankly, to Stormont Vail and probably would be very interested in being involved in donating to the foundation. How would they go about that? And in general, how do you handle donor engagement?

Amy Burns:

We really just try to provide consistent quality care throughout our health system. And then, we do find that donor engagement really happens through the relationship that people build with Stormont Vail and our health team. And so we work to ensure that our donors understand that we are excellent stewards of their dollars, that we always reinvest into our community, into our organization to ensure that we’re always able to provide the highest quality care right here at home. And so I think more than anything, it’s just being consistently high quality, responsive to our community.

Clint Patty:

Let’s talk a little bit about for people in this community that maybe want to get involved in the work of Stormont Vail Foundation or volunteer. How can they get involved? How can they contribute to the work of Stormont Vail Foundation?

Amy Burns:

We have so many ways that members of our community can help through volunteering, through participating in our auxiliary by donating. We would love to have more people join us, of course, in any capacity. And we also want to help people get involved in whatever way it is that they are passionate. Whatever they’re passionate about, we want to engage them to connect them to that.

So if they are passionate about things happening with Alzheimer’s, if they’re passionate about things happening at the Heart Center, the Cancer Center, we have programs and funds available throughout the health system, and then people can start their own fund at Stormont Vail Foundation. So we can draw up an endowment agreement, and they can outline how they would like to have their funds used in perpetuity.

Clint Patty:

Great.

Amy Burns:

So we are able to handle all of that. We, of course, want people to remember us in every way. Here, at the end of the year, with their estate planning, we’re happy to participate in any way that people might like us to. So if they just need our tax ID or if they want to come and learn more about a program, tour a program, we would love to have them do that.

And one very nice thing about Stormont Vail Foundation is that Stormont Vail Health underwrites the cost of the foundation. So 100% of our donors dollars are able to be used for the intended purpose. So not one of our donor dollars goes to pay me or to make sure that we have a copier, any of our administrative expenses. So that’s one thing that people can rest assured that 100% of their contribution goes to whatever it is that they are passionate about.

Clint Patty:

That’s a big deal and a huge commitment on the part of the hospital.

Amy Burns:

It really is. We know how lucky we are to be in that position because not many nonprofits are able to say that. And so we’re very lucky to be in that position.

Clint Patty:

So talk a little bit about some of the success stories maybe you’ve had from the last few years. Based on the Foundation’s work, what have been some of the big successes that you’ve had?

Amy Burns:

We were just last week so lucky to have the grand opening of our Cancer Center and Infusion Center expansion and remodel. That was just so needed, and it really made our workspace more efficient and more patient-focused. We were always working on the patient experience, and so we were… we had wonderful donors who contributed to that expansion and remodel, and so we were able to celebrate that with them last week.

We really have had some wonderful donors for our Cardiovascular Procedure Center. So those are some things that we’re celebrating. And we now have coming up our… Believe it or not, it’s the 20th anniversary of our neonatal ICU opening.

Clint Patty:

Wow.

Amy Burns:

I know our new neonatal ICU is going to turn 20. And so some of our equipment has been around about that long, and it is getting more difficult to get parts and things like that. So we will be requesting assistance with neonatal ICU equipment from our community going forward.

Clint Patty:

The lives that have been saved in that neonatal ICU unit it is hard. Anyone who has spent time up there any time at all… It’s hard to even talk about Frank without getting emotional. You will see many of these babies no bigger than the size of the palm of your hand.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. Less than a pound.

Clint Patty:

I remember being up there and walking by some of these. We were in there for a very short time and had really no problems. We were the ones the nurses loved because they didn’t have to have anything to do with us. We just sat there. But we were able to watch them work. And we watched these babies. And I remember a nurse telling me, “They’re going to be just fine. It may take a few years for them to catch up, but they’ll be just fine.” And I thought to myself, “This is a place where miracles happen.”

Amy Burns:

It’s very true.

Clint Patty:

Tremendous.

Amy Burns:

Very true. Very true. Very true. I just can’t say enough wonderful things about that team. We also have a transport team that goes out, either on the helicopter or in an ambulance to all of our surrounding communities who pick up babies that might need additional assistance that would need to come to our NICU. And so they go out rather than just the regular EMTs so that they can start helping the babies immediately.

Clint Patty:

That’s fantastic.

Amy Burns:

So it’s really… I just couldn’t be more proud of being a part of Stormont Vail and being part of the team there.

Clint Patty:

That’s very exciting. So tell me about any… I mean, I think we’ve touched on a lot of them. Are there any other upcoming events or anything else that you’d like to promote or want the community to be aware of?

Amy Burns:

We want the community to know that we are here and available at any time. We would love to learn more about what it is that they care about. We don’t focus too much on events because events can be expensive and can really take very time-consuming. And so we really want to focus on what it is that the community needs and who can help us get there. And so we’re always working to provide for those needs. We have a few events. We’re at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for our area, so occasionally, you’ll be asked to round up at Walmart or Ace Hardware, somewhere like that.

And when you say yes to rounding up that money throughout our region, we have 15 counties that we cover comes to Stormont Vail to help underwrite the cost of our children’s programming that is not insurance billable. So a lot of people might have used the services of our Breastfeeding Clinic, and that’s not insurance billable that is underwritten through Children’s Miracle Network. So a number of things like that. So you mentioned the neonatal ICU.

We have a NICU Follow-Up Clinic, and that’s partially funded by Children’s Miracle Network, and that’s… A medical professional will follow your baby for the two years following their time in the NICU to make sure that they’re hitting developmental milestones. So these are the kinds of things that we know how important it is to offer, but there’s no one to bill for that. So these are the kinds of services that we provide because we know they’re important for the community members.

Clint Patty:

And I want to touch on something you said earlier about serving 15 counties. I don’t think… I think because we live here in Topeka, sometimes we forget this is a regional hospital network, and it spreads a big net, and it’s in a lot of these rural communities. I grew up in a very small rural community and know that firsthand the need to know that you’ve got good hospital care nearby. Can you talk just a little bit about just the breadth of this Stormont Vail network?

Amy Burns:

That is so true, and it’s important for communities to have local hospitals, but it’s not always possible. We’ve seen a number of communities where the hospitals have not been able to survive. And so Stormont Vail is serving a larger and larger region all the time. And we have clinics in a variety of communities, and we also send our specialists out to communities throughout the region. So a cardiologist may visit your town once a week, and that person comes from Stormont Vail, brings their Stormont Vail team, and then if you would need a procedure, you would come to Topeka.

So we really… we’re happy to be the organization that’s there for our communities, but we also are presented with new challenges all the time because of that. So we are discovering that transportation is a huge need in a lot of our rural communities. That our seniors aren’t always able to get to a location or to one of our hospitals. And so that’s a challenge that our team is facing all the time now.

Clint Patty:

Let’s roll back the clock a little bit, a few years, and talk just a little bit about the challenges that were brought about by COVID-19. And I can tell you just personally, I was up at the Mayo Clinic picking up a friend of mine about three months ago, and as I was chatting with one of the nurses, I remarked that, “Here we are at Mayo Clinic, and I just expected there to be a slew of hospital staff everywhere.”

And she informed me that the Mayo is no different than any other hospital in the country. That they’ve had tremendous staffing challenges after COVID-19. The story she shared with me was that it wasn’t that people retired. They just left and never came back. And so I’m just wondering, can you speak a little bit to the challenges that Stormont Vail had through COVID-19, both in terms of therapeutic and treatment? Then also, on the other side of that, the challenges with its workforce?

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. We have had, and continue to have staffing challenges. It’s throughout the country. It’s in every area, but it’s just critical in healthcare that that be addressed. And so we have teams of people that are working through every angle possible to try to address those staffing challenges. We realized through that time too, that we knew that there were health inequities. We just didn’t realize the significant impact that they would have in a situation like COVID. And I think, if nothing else, it brought it right to the forefront to our attention where it must be addressed.

And so I think one of the things that has changed us for the better is recognizing that we have a role to play in addressing inequities in our healthcare system. And we are working very hard to address those. We have a team of people who are focused on that. We have initiatives that we are starting, for example, our Maternal Fetal Medicine program. We are focusing on inequities in that area to address that and to address maternal and infant mortality. And we are… I think it really honed our attention in on those inequities and brought right to our attention that we needed to address those immediately.

Clint Patty:

It had a way of exposing all of the things that were bubbling underneath that we maybe just didn’t look down far enough to see.

Amy Burns:

That’s exactly right. Where we thought, “Oh, this is probably a problem.” Or even, “We know this is a problem. Wish we knew what to do.”

Clint Patty:

“We’ll get to it.”

Amy Burns:

Exactly. Exactly. But this is… it’s-

Clint Patty:

That’s great.

Amy Burns:

… right to the forefront.

Clint Patty:

And it absolutely, absolutely needs to be. I know that during the pandemic, there were challenges with staff and with nurses being able to keep up with continuing education. And I know that the foundation played a major part in providing major support for nursing staff during that time period, so.

Amy Burns:

We did. We did. We had the Healthcare Heroes Fund, and so that allowed us to help cover some of the expenses for the essential staff that had to be there, like health… like childcare, or things that we wouldn’t have ordinarily provided for our staff. But that really brought to the forefront, “If these people have to be here under any circumstances, then we need to be able to help them with that and the extra expenses they’re facing because of that.”

Clint Patty:

Right.

Amy Burns:

So we really had great support from the community at that time.

Clint Patty:

Talk just a little bit too about the mobile care units. It’s one of the things when I pull up Stormont I see them now much more frequently. And I would think that’s had a tremendous impact in helping to combat the inequities in healthcare.

Amy Burns:

It’s true. And we continue to try to use those in that way and also to address the lack of healthcare that can be provided in some of our rural communities. So it’s a great way for us to come to patients rather than patients to have to come to us, but also not to have a brick-and-mortar building that we are taking care of. We can bring all of the equipment with us. So it’s a way to address a number of things that are happening, whether it’s underserved populations within Topeka or any of our surrounding communities.

Clint Patty:

What would be your vision for the future of Stormont Vail Foundation, and how it’s going to continue making it… this positive impact within our community?

Amy Burns:

I think one of the most important things that the Stormont Vail Foundation can do right now is to help people understand that we really are a regional organization and we are working very hard to serve people throughout our region. And really to continue to grow our presence as a foundation and show that, while we are a large organization that can benefit all these communities, we too need help in order to do that. And so we appreciate the support of individuals and organizations throughout our region, recognizing that they can help us serve their communities. And so we continue to work to grow our presence throughout the region.

Clint Patty:

And so, once again, for those who want to get involved, who want to maybe volunteer at a Cancer Center or want to be involved at the cardiac unit, or in any way want to help financially or include Stormont Vail Foundation maybe in their estate plans, give us that number again for them to call.

Amy Burns:

Absolutely. It’s (785)354-6851.

Clint Patty:

Amy, it has been great to have you as a guest and to hear about all the great work that is being done at Stormont Vail Foundation. Is there anything here that I haven’t asked you that you think, “Gosh, I wish he would’ve asked me that question?”

Amy Burns:

I don’t think so. Thank you so much for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it and just want people to feel free to reach out. If it’s an area that we haven’t mentioned today but something that they care deeply about, then please reach out because it’s likely that we can find a way to address whatever your concerns are at the foundation or whatever you’re passionate about at the foundation.

Clint Patty:

Folks, it’s your turn. So if you want to get involved, please reach out to Amy Burns, the president of Stormont Vail Foundation. Amy, thank you.

Amy Burns:

Thank you.

Clint Patty:

And for everyone else, thank you for joining us, and we will see you soon. You’ve been listening to another episode of Investing in Good. Today’s episode was brought to you by Clayton Wealth Partners. We are more than just individual wealth managers and financial planners. If you’re an individual seeking to increase your impact through thoughtful charitable giving, or if you represent an endowment, a foundation, or a nonprofit that’s looking to safeguard and grow your financial assets, please consider partnering with Clayton Wealth Partners.

You can visit us at claytonwealthpartners.com and discover how we can help guide and empower you in your mission to make a difference. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast and join us next time as we delve into more stories of inspiration right in the heart of our community. On behalf of Clayton Wealth Partners, I’m Clint Patty. I thank you for listening, and we will see you soon.

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Clint Patty, J.D.

As Managing Partner, Clint serves on the management team providing leadership, supporting business development efforts and providing client consultation.