By Robb Murray
---- — MANKATO — The Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato Auxiliary has been raising money for the Mankato hospital since the 1970s. But few gifts have been as substantial as the one they gave Thursday.
The auxiliary donated $100,000 to the hospital during a news conference held just outside the gift shop (which is also run by the auxiliary). The money will be used to upgrade aging furniture in the hospital's pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology units.
Furniture in those areas, MCHS officials say, is "outdated, uncomfortable and not supportive of the needs of patients and their families."
MCHS CEO Greg Kutcher said their focus the last few years has been on upgrading services and facilties, such as the addition of their Andreas Cancer Center, the Heart Center and upgrades to the emergency department.
But now, thanks to the donation from the auxiliary, they're able to upgrade things that ordinarily might get overlooked when a health care organization focuses on care.
Julie Vetter, president of the auxiliary, said the auxiliary has about 160 members who volunteer at the hospital and participate in local events. Over the years, they've gifted about $2 million to the hospital and make gifts to the hospital of roughly $25,000 annually.
"We're very pleased to be able to help with their comfort," Vetter said.
There are 1,500 babies born each year at MCHS in Mankato. The facility is second only to Rochester in the number of babies born per facility. That kind of volume, Kutcher said, is hard on a hospital. Having the donation from the auxiliary allows the hospital to make some upgrades immediately.
"We can't thank the auxiliary members and the auxiliary board enough," Kutcher said. "They're really committed to the community."
Dr. Shabbir Khambaty said getting upgraded furniture will increase the sense of comfort for patients.
"What it boils down to is better care for patients," Khambaty said.