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Harnessing employee passion

Staff campaign raises more than $1 million

Regions Hospital - Foundation - Tom Kottke, MD

"I've traveled around the world and can’t imagine a better place to live," said Tom Kottke, MD, a HealthPartners cardiologist. "If I can give back to the community and make it a little better, that gift will multiply itself."

Dr. Kottke is a physician leader of the Sharing at Work employee giving campaign of Regions and HealthPartners. In 2013, employees contributed $549,000 to the campaign to benefit patient care, medical research and the education of health professionals throughout the organization. With a HealthPartners match, the campaign raised more than $1 million.

Part of the campaign’s success stems from a high level of employee satisfaction. Regions and HealthPartners have received awards from the Minnesota Hospital Association and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for being great places to work. With the help of donations, scholarships are also available for staff members who want to further their education and grow their careers.

The unique nature of HealthPartners also allows for a diverse range of fundable programming that touches every aspect of health care. "HealthPartners provides the full continuum of health care delivery services and has a very successful research and education institute. Physician residents in the Twin Cities see HealthPartners as the crown jewel of their training program because of the diverse experience they receive," Dr. Kottke said.

Dr. Kottke is excited by many of the programs funded by Sharing at Work, including the assistance provided to patients in need. "With the help of donations, we can give bathroom scales to needy patients with heart disease," Dr. Kottke said. "One of the most important things heart failure patients can do to avoid re-hospitalization is to weigh themselves daily. Weighing themselves on a regular basis alerts them to that initial weight gain that can lead to hospitalization. We can also give pillboxes to patients, which helps them keep track of their many medications. It's not a lot of money, but if you're broke it can be invaluable."

In addition to his work as a cardiologist, Dr. Kottke is also the HealthPartners medical director for population health and is involved in the organization’s research program. Among other things, he is looking at ways to reduce disparities in hospital readmission rates among different ethnic populations. "HealthPartners and Regions are uniquely qualified to do medical research," Dr. Kottke said. "We have large numbers of patients, electronic data sets that are easy to work with, and statisticians and data analysts who can make sense of the information. Grants from donations allow our investigators to gather preliminary data, which they can use to convince outside agencies to fund the research going forward.

"At HealthPartners and Regions we want to be the best of the best. Striving toward this goal has allowed us to do great things. I don’t know of another hospital that is both the charity care leader and the destination hospital for great care in the community, and yet that's what Regions has become. As the safety-net hospital, we operate on razor-thin margins, so donations play a big part in allowing us to fill this unique role in the community.

"All of us are going to become ill at some point," Dr. Kottke said. "The patient care, research and education programs funded through charitable contributions allow us to prepare for our own unforeseeable needs."