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Foundations Fuel Hospitals’ Joint Effort to Combat COVID-19

February 16, 2021

(Council Bluffs, IA) – In a world full of competition, four distinct, yet like-minded organizations in the heartland have come together for the common good.

The Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund, a collaboration between the Iowa West Foundation and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, recently awarded $150,000 – approximately $75,000 each – to the two hospitals that sit on opposite sides of main thoroughfare in Council Bluffs.

While each is its own unique entity, the two health care providers have a long history of collaboration. Fortunately, they have been especially unified in their provision of COVID-19 care. Unfortunately, that has also resulted in a mirror image of increased need for treatment space as well as essential equipment since the pandemic began.

“From the very beginning, we sat down together to brainstorm ways to support our staff members as well as our community,” said Tara Slevin, Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and Foundation. “The first few months we talked regularly as we partnered up to engage public health experts, funders and community partners. Looking ahead, I anticipate continuing to collaborate on matters that affect the health of our community.”

Slevin’s counterpart at CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs echoed those sentiments.

“The Jennie Ed team has been so wonderful to work with throughout COVID,” said Abby Jares, Development Officer. “I have really enjoyed and valued the spirit of collaboration between our two health systems. We are all in this together and strive to work side-by-side for the betterment of Southwest Iowa.”

The SWI COVID-19 Response Fund grants awarded to the hospitals will both allow for:

  • additional treatment space specifically for COVID patients
  • the purchase of isolation equipment and supplies
  • expanded cardiac monitoring for COVID patients
Dr. Mark Otto of CHI Health Mercy

Dr. Mark Otto of CHI Health Mercy dons a PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) while preparing an isolation cart outfitted with essential medical equipment needed for treating COVID-19 patients. CHI Health Mercy and Methodist Jennie Edmundson in Council Bluffs each recently received approximately $75,000 from the SWI COVID-19 Response Fund, a collaboration between Iowa West Foundation and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation.

With Iowa’s record high numbers of COVID-19 cases, all are crucial to the safety of front-line health care workers, as well as COVID and non-COVID patients. With the pandemic came never-before-seen policies and protocols, which forced many facilities to come up with more space in short time, costing millions of dollars and thereby straining budgets like never before.

“The COVID pandemic and patient surge has stressed our healthcare systems in Southwest Iowa,” said Denise McNitt, Vice President of Patient Care at CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs. “Receiving these much-needed funds from the Iowa West Foundation and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation has enabled us to purchase essential pieces of equipment needed to care for these critically-ill patients.”

Dave Burd, Senior Vice President Operations at Methodist Jennie Edmundson agreed, thanking the convening funders for their support of local health care teams.

“Throughout this pandemic, Methodist Jennie Edmundson has directed a considerable amount of resources to safely take care of our COVID patients and our employees,” he said. “We are truly grateful for the Iowa West and Pottawattamie County Community Foundations’ for their COVID financial assistance funds.”

The partnership between the Iowa West Foundation and Pottawattamie County Community Foundation has allowed for foundation funds to be combined with outside donations that are collectively channeled to provide

  • Emergency Assistance to Vulnerable Populations
  • Continuity of Nonprofit Operations
  • Expanded Infrastructure for Public health

“Health care is not one of our standard funding areas, but when the extreme need for expanding public health infrastructure arose, we adapted to meet the needs of our community,” said Deb Debbaut, Director of Grants Programs and Manager of the Healthy Families portfolio at the Iowa West Foundation. “The Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund has helped to stabilize nonprofits and organizations who are on the front lines serving and caring for those affected by the pandemic, and we’re thankful for their service.”

President and CEO of the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, Donna Dostal, said on behalf of her organization, PCCF is honored to be able to support the hospitals.

“The true spirit of service shines at both Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs,” Dostal said. “The staff, volunteers, and leadership at these organizations have been working tirelessly in service of our community, providing the healthcare support necessary to battle this pandemic, and we are truly grateful to them.”

Individuals, families, corporations, and others who would like to donate to the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 relief efforts are encouraged to visit or call 712-256-7007. The Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund also continues to accept applications on a rolling basis. The universal application for relief funding can be found at both and

About the Iowa West Foundation
The Iowa West Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the Midwest. It has distributed more than $500 million to nonprofits and governmental agencies throughout southwest Iowa since the inception of its grant program. Funding for the grants comes from investment earnings and the Iowa West Racing Association, which receives contractual fees from casino operators, Ameristar and Harrah’s. IWRA is the license sponsor for Ameristar and Harrah’s and the license holder for Horseshoe-Bluffs Run. The Foundation targets resources into programs and projects that focus on economic development, education, placemaking, and healthy families.

About Pottawattamie County Community Foundation
The Pottawattamie County Community Foundation is a tax-exempt public charity, 501(c)(3), that serves thousands of people who share a common interest in improving the quality of life in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Through PCCF, individuals, families, businesses and organizations can create permanent charitable funds that help their communities meet the challenges of changing times. The foundation invests and administers these charitable funds.

About CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs
CHI Health is a regional health network with a unified mission: nurturing the healing ministry of the Church while creating healthier communities. Headquartered in Omaha, the combined organization consists of 14 hospitals, two stand-alone behavioral health facilities, more than 150 employed physician practice locations and more than 10,000 employees in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa.
In fiscal 2019, CHI Health invested more than $185 million back into our communities. The majority of those dollars went to caring for the poor and underserved. CHI Health is part of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. It was created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. CommonSpirit Health is committed to creating healthy communities, delivering exceptional patient care, and ensuring every person has access to quality health care. With its national office in Chicago and a team of approximately 150,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, CommonSpirit Health operates 142 hospitals and more than 700 care sites across 21 states. In FY 2018, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health had combined revenues of $29.2 billion and provided $4.2 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed government programs.

About Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital
Established in 1886 and affiliated with Methodist Health System since 1994, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital is a 230 licensed bed regional health care center serving approximately 250,000 residents in southwestern Iowa. Jennie Edmundson Hospital employs a workforce of 422 full-time and nearly 162 part-time staffers, and has over 300 physicians on its Medical Staff, 168 which are currently active.

Nicole Lindquist

Written by Nicole Lindquist, Director of Communications

Media Inquiries:

Nicole Lindquist
Director of Communications
w: 712-309-3004
c: 402-981-2289

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