Avista Utilities is in the business of both powering and empowering communities. The company, while providing electricity and natural gas to customers, also distributes philanthropic dollars to places like Pullman Regional Hospital.
“We’re acutely aware as a locally-headquartered company in the area that healthcare is a huge piece of any successful community’s infrastructure,” said Kristine Meyer, executive director of Avista Foundation.
Paul Kimmell, Avista’s Palouse regional business manager, agrees. “From my end, I work around a lot of economic development; hospitals are vital,” he said. “Hospitals are a major employer and a major attraction in terms of recruiting additional business.”
Meyer said Avista’s support of healthcare is much more than a business strategy. “Healthy residents,” she said, “translate into healthy employees, healthy customers, healthy kids and families in our area; we’re interested in investing in that.”
Investing, in fact, more than $2.3 million last year throughout Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington, Southern Oregon and into Montana.
Pullman Regional Hospital’s share amounted to $20,000 divided evenly between the hospital’s Endowment for Quality & Access and the Annual Giving for Excellence Fund—supporting the hospital’s highest needs. The money, combined with other donations, went toward purchase of 3-D mammography equipment and room expansion, a fetal heart monitor, two labor beds and an infant video laryngoscope for examining the airway of pediatric patients.
Additionally, Avista is the lead sponsor of the Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation’s annual Gala held in February. “At this point we’re supporting the gala with a $10,000 contribution,” Kimmell said. He called the Gala “probably the nicest” community-wide fundraising event which attracts more than 300 people for a good cause and good reason.
Pullman Regional, Kimmell and Meyer said, has done a stellar job of bringing high-quality healthcare to Pullman and the surrounding area.
“Not every community Avista serves has a hospital,” Meyer pointed out.
“And this hospital,” Kimmell added, “is pretty impressive for a community this size. So we support with corporate giving as well as through the Avista Foundation. We also partner with the hospital on energy efficiency projects.”
Kimmell said the hospital’s stature and reputation is recognized by Avista as starting with strong leadership and a sense of caring that permeates the staff. Meyer, who was born at the hospital when it was located on the campus of Washington State University, said Pullman Regional Hospital is not only touted by patients, but also deserves credit for attracting top-notch physicians and experienced healthcare providers.
“If the hospital were missing a piece of the puzzle,” she said, “they certainly wouldn’t have been able to recruit and retain the kind of leadership and staffing they have had over all these years.”
All of it, Meyer and Kimmell agreed, adds up to why Avista will continue to empower the community by investing in the kind of healthcare Pullman Regional Hospital provides.
“The caliber of people coming and staying speaks to the quality of the hospital and its commitment to excellence,” Meyer said.