The St. Anne Hospital Foundation Board of Directors this month voted to reject a request to merge with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health’s (VMFH) systemwide VMFH Foundation.
The rejection comes after VMFH’s submission of a formal proposal for the merger, which included demands for the transfer of all funds and donor lists to VMFH Foundation, cessation of fundraising activities, and closure of the St. Anne Foundation’s office within a month.
While a compromise was suggested in the form of an oversight committee, comprised of former Foundation board members, to review grants made by VMFH Foundation using the Foundation’s funds over the previous six months, the Board of Directors found the terms unacceptable due to the lack of authority granted to the committee.
Following extensive deliberation and discussions with VMFH Foundation and VMFH leadership, the Board unanimously voted against the merger proposal during their Jan. 10, 2024 meeting. However, VMFH has chosen to sever ties with the Foundation rather than seeking a mutually agreeable resolution. They have terminated the current memorandum of understanding with St. Anne Hospital, effective March 31, 2024, and have eliminated Foundation staff positions at the hospital, including the role of Executive Director.
Despite these challenges, the Foundation remains committed to its mission of serving the community and ensuring that donations are used to benefit St. Anne Hospital and local healthcare needs. The Board underscores its dedication to honoring near-term commitments and keeping donations within the community.
Cameron Smock, President of the St. Anne Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, expressed confidence in the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to its donors and the community. He emphasized that while the situation has become adversarial, the Foundation’s core focus remains unchanged.
“While VMFH has unilaterally forced an adversarial position on our Board that we never wanted, I can say with confidence that St. Anne Hospital and our donors remain at the heart of this Foundation,” Smock said. “We have served the community for more than 40 years and remain personally committed to you and our important work.” We will share more updates soon. “
The Board has established a new email address, [email protected], for inquiries and concerns from donors and stakeholders.
VMFH Foundation Responds
Kelly Campbell, Division Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, provided the following statement:
“Over the past several months, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) has been working to align all philanthropic activities across the system. In an effort to fully integrate programs and resources, we believe that philanthropic efforts for all entities should be centralized under the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Foundation. This move will ensure continued support is aligned with our mission of delivering high-quality, compassionate care.
“It was our sincere desire that the St. Anne Foundation would appreciate the benefit this brings to St. Anne Hospital as we expand the scope and reach of philanthropic efforts. However, the members of the foundation voted against joining the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Foundation Board. Effective March 31, 2024, St. Anne Hospital will no longer be represented by this independent entity. We are incredibly grateful to the St. Anne Foundation and appreciate the many years of community engagement and fundraising they have accomplished on behalf of St. Anne Hospital.
“The Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Foundation is deeply committed to supporting St. Anne Hospital and the communities we serve. We will continue to provide the community and donors the opportunity to direct gifts specifically to St. Anne Hospital.”
Further updates will be provided as the situation develops.