SOURCE: VHA

September 15, 2005 17:46 ET

VHA and The VHA Health Foundation Raise $1.4 Million for Hospital Employees Affected by Hurricane and Flooding

IRVING, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 15, 2005 -- VHA Inc. and The VHA Health Foundation have collected $1.4 million in cash for VHA hospital employees in the Gulf Coast region who have had their homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina or the subsequent flooding.

"The hurricane affected dozens of hospitals along the Gulf Coast, including six VHA member hospitals. We heard many stories about the sacrifices health care workers made to take care of patients during the stressful days that followed the hurricane, and many of them are hurting now, which is motivating our efforts to support them," said Curt Nonomaque, president and chief executive officer of VHA.

Nearly 5,000 hospital employees at the six VHA member hospitals had their homes damaged or destroyed. The member hospitals are: Slidell (La.) Memorial Hospital; Memorial Hospital, Gulfport, Miss.; Singing River Hospital System, Pascagoula, Miss.; St. Tammany Parish Hospital, Covington, La.; Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.

To help these employees put their lives back together, VHA, through the VHA Health Foundation, is collecting donations from VHA employees and employees at its related companies, Novation and Healthcare Purchasing Partners International. VHA is matching these donations 3:1. To allow employees to make large pledges for matching, the employees have the option to spread payments using payroll deductions over the next six months.

VHA also issued a request for donations to its 2,400 member health care organizations. Since 1992, following Hurricane Andrew, VHA members, through the VHA network, have supported each other in times of need by donating cash to help other hospital employees.

"Early reports are that the recipients of the cash donations have been greatly moved by the generosity of their fellow health care workers across the country," said Linda DeWolf, president of the VHA Health Foundation. "This is a wonderful effort for people to participate in because it's the right thing to do, but it's also important to ensure the full recovery of the health care system. We have to help health care workers in the area rebuild their lives, or else we'll face a long-term shortage of health workers in the region."

To date, members that have responded with contributions and other support, include:

--  Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health, Charlotte, N.C., and
    Winston-Salem, N.C., sent a new MED-1 mobile hospital to New Orleans for
    six to eight weeks.  Also, other hospitals admitted patients from Gulf
    States area.
    
--  Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Jefferson Hills, Penn., is
    collecting for the American Red Cross through the medical center's
    foundation. Jefferson Regional will match the total collected and make a
    separate donation to the VHA Health Foundation Disaster Relief Fund.
    
--  Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston, is providing free care to
    evacuees - many of whom were healthy when they arrived but are now sick due
    to the pollution and stress or from not having their medications. Memorial
    Hermann also provided helicopters to airlift critical care patients from
    Ochsner.
    
--  Nash Health Care Systems in Rocky Mount, N.C., raised cash donations
    totaling $14,000 and employees donated $20,000 in paid time off to enable
    other employees to take time off to volunteer.  The health system also
    contributed two-for-one matching funds and donated the money to The VHA
    Health Foundation.
    
--  New Britain General Hospital, New Britain, Conn., pledged $50,000 to
    the VHA Health Foundation and is encouraging employees to make individual
    contributions.
    
VHA, Novation and HPPI also have employee families who were affected. They have initiated an Adopt-A-Family program to reach out to the 30 VHA, Novation and HPPI employees whose family members were displaced by the hurricane and flooding. Through the program, teams of employees will provide dedicated relief to more than 150 individuals. Five hundred employees have committed to help these families until they can begin to recover from their losses. Initially, the employees are providing cash, and over a period of months, will also help the families with food, clothing, and other special requests.

To enable employees to be more involved, the companies have modified their volunteer policies to allow employees to take up to 40 hours paid leave to participate in organized relief efforts.

About VHA

VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national alliance that provides industry-leading supply chain management services and supports the formation of regional and national member networks that help members improve their clinical and economic performance. Through VHA, members access local and national resources, including unparalleled supply chain data analytics, to help them lower costs and improve clinical quality. With 18 offices across the U.S., VHA has a track record of proven results in serving more than 2,400 health care organizations nationwide.

About The VHA Health Foundation

The VHA Health Foundation (http://www.vhahf.org/vhahf/aboutus.asp), located in Irving, Texas, is a public foundation created by VHA Inc. to encourage leadership and innovation in addressing health and health care issues. Efforts benefit VHA member health care organizations as well as non-members. The VHA Health Foundation funds programs that focus on new approaches to health and health care that make a difference, generate synergies that bring resources to add value and enhance outcomes, and diffuse knowledge and best practices.

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