Hamiltons give $500K to project
By SARA KONRAD BARANOWSKI
Iowa Falls Times-Citizen 01/11/2012, Page A01
A generous gift from two former Iowa Falls area residents pushed the Ellsworth Municipal Hospital capital campaign past its goal of raising $5 million last month. Robert and Arlene Hamilton, who moved to a retirement facility in Des Moines last year, have pledged $500,000 to be used on construction of a new hospital in Iowa Falls. The EMH Capital Campaign Committee announced the Hamiltons' gift last week. "It sounds like a great project," said Arlene Hamilton. "We've been happy to have this hospital here when we needed it." Bob Hamilton grew up on a family farm north of Iowa Falls. He attended Ellsworth Community College before returning to the farm. Arlene Hamilton, who grew up in Williams, moved to Iowa Falls to attend Ellsworth. She worked as a secretary in the Iowa Falls School District before leaving to work on the family farm.
"This is home," Bob Hamilton said of Iowa Falls and Hardin County.
The Hamiltons said they used the services at Ellsworth Municipal Hospital many times during their decades-long residence on the farm. Their son was born at EMH, Bob's parents died there and Arlene was hospitalized for treatment of an illness.
Arlene said the couple didn't know much about the hospital's plans for a new facility until they were approached by a Capital Campaign Committee member.
"It [the hospital] looked good on the outside, but once they visited with us we understood it wasn't," Arlene Hamilton said.
The Hamiltons also contributed to the hospital several years ago when patient room renovations were being done.
"I remember when I stayed here I liked it when the rooms looked nice," Arlene said.
With the Hamiltons' gift (and several other gifts in recent weeks) the hospital has reached $6.6 million in pledges and donations. The Capital Campaign Committee's goal was $5 million.
But that "extra" money won't go to waste. EMH CEO Cherelle Montanye said there are several ways the additional money can be used. Namely, for contingency on the project and for more beds in the Med Surg department of the new hospital. "We're looking at how to utilize the funding," Montanye said. The hospital had a construction start date of this spring, but a special reverse referendum election held in November pushed back progress. Montanye said she's hopeful the hospital will be able to complete ground and drainage work and "get steel in the ground" before next winter, so work can be done through the cold weather. "Theres not anything we can make happen faster," Montanye said. "We'll have more information about a timeline at the end of January."