Stories

Stories

St. John’s Hospital Foundation’s mission is to secure philanthropic support to advance the mission and strategic objectives of St. John’s Medical Center, including patient-centered care, clinical excellence, and community wellness.

"In 2006, Julie Guttormson had lived in Jackson barely a year when she suffered a stroke. The stroke was caused from three blood clots, each located in different major veins of the brain. "

Founder of Rock the Ride and Owner of Revolution Indoor Cycling

In 2006, Julie Guttormson had lived in Jackson barely a year when she suffered a stroke. The stroke was caused from three blood clots, each located in different major veins of the brain. She had been a vibrant, active 31-year-old soaking in everything her new home offered. Skiing, running, and cycling were the go-to activities as she enjoyed her career in hospitality sales and teaching group fitness classes that she discovered a love for at age 17. Learning she had experienced a stroke was a shock, but knew she was extremely lucky to walk away healthy and with no side effects. To say the year that followed was “life changing” was an understatement. Julie turned her passion for sharing fitness into a career and crossed numerous finish lines, including Ironman Coeur d’Alene.

With the support of her husband and two small children, Julie opened the doors of Revolution Indoor Cycling in March, 2012. This year not only marks Revolution’s 5th anniversary, but 11 years since her stroke. As a young professional, Julie experienced first-hand the cost incurred from suffering a serious health complication in Jackson, requiring a transfer to Salt Lake City. From this experience, Revolution Indoor Cycling and St. John’s Hospital Foundation have teamed up to create “Rock The Ride“, an event to help local stroke and cardiac patients in financial need, plus aid in prevention.

Revolution Indoor Cycling prides itself on offering classes for the masses, an opportunity for all ages and fitness levels to thrive. It is with this same principle “Rock The Ride” was born. Stroke and cardiac issues can happen at any age. Through creating an event team, sponsorship and simple donation, your support will help patients blindsided by the cost of this experience and potential recovery. And to thrive.

Photos by: Katy Gray Photography

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"Lots of things happen on a national level, but funding goes to research, this goes to cover the need locally."

Founder of Run & Ride for the Cure

Be it the breathtaking views, the fishing, the climbing, the hiking, the skiing, the biking, the chance to get away, or the chance to find something new, Jackson appeals to us all for many different reasons. For Phil Leeds, co-owner of Skinny Skis, it was climbing and skiing that initially pulled him to Jackson during his summers in college. However, he chose to make Jackson his permanent home in 1977 for a different reason. “It really was the people that were the drawing card”. He felt the welcoming community and the wonderful residents was what made this town special, and he wanted to surround himself in that atmosphere. Skinny Skis began the annual Run & Ride around 20-25 years ago as three early season duathlons to promote staying active in the community. It was the perfect way to kick off the spring and just have a fun time. Come hell or high water the race was held, creating an exciting and unpredictable factor to the event.

After a few years, Kate McLaren, a local message therapist approached Phil. She had donated much of her time and services to the Oncology Department at St. John’s Medical Center, and she understood the need of those affected by cancer. Her idea was this; make the Run & Ride a fundraiser and donate all the proceeds to the Cancer Patient Support Fund at St. John’s Hospital Foundation. Phil loved the idea and jumped on board immediately.

In 1999 the 1st annual Run & Ride for the Cure took place. With 150 people participating every year, from elite athletes to small children, this event really is fun for everyone. The race is a 5k run then a 15k cycling course, available for competive men and women’s teams, as well as a shorter kid’s class and fun class. It is the perfect way to bring the entire community together, help keep the town of Jackson active, and spread cancer awareness.

Since the Run & Ride for the Cure began it has contributed $191,000 to The Chemo Patient Fund to aid cancer patients financially. By helping to pay for medications, medical bills, lodging, therapy, even gas cards this fund can relieve the unimaginable stress these people feel, and allow them to begin the long healing process. Phil understands the effect he is having all around the community, “Lots of things happen on a national level, but funding goes to research, this goes to cover the need locally”.

With the Run & Ride he is able to get local businesses to take part in sponsoring the race and support many people in the community that are fighting for their lives. He recalls a story that reminds him why he puts on this event: A few years ago Kate Mclaren, one of the founding sponsors, was at a party with Carol Poole (Oncology Nurse). She came up to Kate and asked, “May I tell you how your fund helped someone today?” She then told Kate about a 20 year old young man who had testicular cancer and needed chemotherapy five days a week. It was really harsh treatment that came with horrendous nausea. He and his mother were from out of town and were camping up in Curtis Campground during the treatment, due to a lack of housing. Carol approached them with the idea that Oncology could use the Chemo Patient Fund to pay for rooms at the Hitching Post, across from the hospital. The mom burst into tears as they accepted the offer.

Phil feels honored to be able to put on this race for the community and do everything he can to raise money for the Chemo Patient Support Fund. Because of the wonderful cause, and all that the Run & Ride for the Cure stands for, Phil has no intention of slowing down, and envisions this race continuing for years to come.

Annual kids' race

Run & Ride for the Cure 2016

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"If it weren’t for the chemistry analyzer that the Foundation purchased thanks to generous community donors, Mavis and I might not be alive. "

Grateful Patient

Katie Long, the Foundation’s Director of Annual Giving and Database, shared her story. Eight months into a healthy pregnancy, Katie felt unwell. She visited her doctor and they ran routine tests. When the symptoms passed, Katie was ready to chalk it up to a virus; her doctors did not because her bloodwork told a different story.

Katie’s bloodwork—like most bloodwork in Teton and Sublette Counties—was processed by the new chemistry analyzer in the lab at St. John’s, ensuring quick and accurate results. This newly purchased equipment revealed that she had a life-threatening condition called HELLP Syndrome. Her only chance at survival was to travel to Salt Lake City for an emergency delivery at the University of Utah. Katie was flown immediately to UUHC where she delivered her daughter, Mavis, and they both received the care they needed.

“If it weren’t for the chemistry analyzer that the Foundation purchased thanks to generous community donors, Mavis and I might not be alive,” Katie said. “We are deeply thankful, in the most personal way possible, for the Foundation’s donors.”

For more information about HELLP Syndrome click here.

The Long family after they returned from Utah

Mavis on her first birthday

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"My mom always did everything for everyone else, and I wanted to find a way to keep her name and spirit alive."

Founder of Shirley's Heart Run

At the end of March in 2005 Alison Kyle was going on the trip of a lifetime down the Grand Canyon with her friends. During the 21 day raft trip there was only one location where the group could make a phone call. Alison describes her and her mother’s relationship as “very close, we talked every day,” so ten days into the trip when cell service was finally available, Alison of course dialed home.

That phone call was perhaps the most important one Alison could have made.

Shirley Kyle, Alison’s mother picked up. Their conversation that day was like so many others. They talked about this year’s March Madness games and grandma–their usual banter.

“Well, I gotta go, send me a prayer, we have some hard rapids coming up, I love you,” Alison said to her mother when it was time to head back on the river. “I love you too,” Shirley replied.

On April 14th, when the float was complete, Alison was eager to hear from her parents, so again she called home, but this time her father answered the phone. They discussed the trip for a while, but Alison was impatient to talk to her mom. Her father told her something that would change her life. Though she had never smoked, nor drank, and lived an active life, Shirley Kyle, age 67 had suffered a massive heart attack the day before Alison was to get off the river. Alison’s mother was gone.

After the initial shock of losing her mother, Alison knew she wanted to do something to give back. “My mom always did everything for everyone else, and I wanted to find a way to keep her name and spirit alive.”

She founded Shirley’s Heart Run that fall. The 1st and 2nd Shirley’s Heart Runs occurred in Alison’s home town of Aurora, Indiana starting the October of 2005. Alison moved the race to Jackson Hole in 2007 where it now takes place every June.

Shirley's Heart Run 2016

With more than 150 people taking part in this run every year, as well as dozens of sponsors and volunteers, Shirley’s Heart Run is the perfect way to unite the town and honor a beloved mother while promoting heart healthy habits and saving lives.

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"I feel like my pieces always end up where they are meant to be."

Jackson Hole Artist

Inside the new St. John’s Medical Center Oncology department, excitement is apparent everywhere.

A plain yellow wall of one of the treatment bays in the oncology department is about to be transformed into the most memorable wall in the hospital. Every little detail must be right. The hand sanitizer on the wall is even removed to insure the space is perfect.

Why?

An original Amy Ringholz masterpiece is in the process of finding its permanent home.

Amy Ringholz just finished her solo show Catch Your Heart On Fire at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. She has been working tirelessly for over a year to complete it. The show was a massive success with 19 of her paintings sold. The piece being hung today, in the Oncology Pavilion, is a 72″ x 60″ ink and oil crayon drawing, with a bit of spray paint detailing, and it happens to be the center piece of the entire show.

It is breathtaking.

An anonymous donor with a very strong passion for art, and a personal experience with the oncology department, donated the funds to the St. John’s Hospital Foundation to purchase this work. The donor felt a connection to the piece and its message and found the location where it belongs.

Once in place when the piece has been straightened just right the group takes a step back to experience the full effect. The room is blown away. The massive phoenix captures the room and takes control of everything around it. The mesmerizing patterns and designs make it difficult to look away. Several people feel goose bumps rising on their arms. The piece is perfect, made for this space.

Amy Ringholz understands the impact her work can have on others. She says, “Art is healing. Where hospitals can be cold, art has its own presence and good energy.” Not only does the work fill the room with light and wonder, but the message of the painting emanates through the space as well.

Titled Catch Fire, Rise Again, the piece speaks of overcoming odds and challenges. It is about happiness, celebration and excitement.

There is not a better place this painting could have ended up.

"Catch Fire, Rise Again"

Ringholz in her studio

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"A simple thank you goes a long way!"

Student Intern

Hello! My name is Irais Quiroz but most people can’t pronounce it so I go by Rice.  I am currently going to be a senior in high school and I have been working St. John’s Hospital Foundation as intern for the summer!  I was born in Tlaxcalla, Mexico, but my parents brought me to the U.S. when I was only 1 year old.

One of the things I love doing outside of school is soccer.  Soccer is a big part of me and I play every day all year round.  I also like art.  Art is something I do to get my mind off of things.  I am the youngest in my family; I have an older sister, Ana (30) and an older brother, Luis (26).  Thy both play an important role in my life.  I look up to them and learn from them as much as I can before I’m off on my own.  My parents don’t know much about what this world has to offer for me, but I know that they support me in everything I do and will keep supporting me in everything I want to become.

Working with the Foundation has been an amazing experience and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to work with John, Rachel, Jen and Katie.  The Foundation has given me the chance to see what happens behind the bigger picture of what a hospital does.  I have learned many simply, yet effective things here that I wouldn’t have experienced until I got older.  One of the most important things I think the Foundation does really well is that they really appreciate what their donors do for them, and they make sure their donors know they are valued by sending them hand written thank you letters for even the simplest kind of donation.  A simple thank you goes a long way!  I was fortunate enough to sit in on a lot of meetings, and I got to see how board members accomplish and compromise on all the decisions they make on a day to day basis.  I am so overwhelmed by how well the people in our community support the hospital and the Foundation.  The same goes to the Foundation, and what it has to offer back to our community.  I was very impressed with all the programs the Foundation has to help people in our community who are in need.  Not only do I know what the Foundation does, but I have a good perspective on what a foundation really is for other places.  Thanks to the Foundation, I now know how lucky I am to live in such a great community!

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"The treatment that she received in all probability saved her life."

This is a letter of appreciation for the care that my wife received in the Emergency Room and thereafter in the Intensive Care Unit…The treatment that she received in all probability saved her life.”

While traveling with her husband, Dick, Polly Vaughan was faced with a medical emergency. They came to the Emergency Room at St. John’s where she was quickly diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. In Dick’s words, “It came upon her suddenly and with no prior indication of such a problem.” The Vaughans reported that every member of the staff, “performed with a high degree of professionalism and attentiveness that clearly showed that they cared for her as a person and not just as another patient.”

In appreciation for this care, the Vaughans made a generous gift of $100,000 to the St. John’s Hospital Foundation to support upgrades in the Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit, and Primary Care Unit. Prior to their gift, a team at SJMC had already identified the key clinical priorities: the purchase of 120 large volume infusion pumps.

These pumps are small, stackable units that allow nursing staff to provide IV fluids, nutrients, and medication efficiently to patients throughout the hospital. Before their gift, departments transferred pumps between units—a common occurrence in hospitals of this size. Now, each patient room will have their own pump. They integrate easily with the electronic medical records system and include enhanced safety features further ensuring that patients at St. John’s get the best clinical care possible.

Foundation President John Goettler said, “The new IV Pumps will impact almost all inpatients at St. John’s. Our deepest gratitude goes out to the Vaughans for their generosity in recognizing the exceptional care that St. John’s provides our community and for their support in our continued improvement.”

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"In this remote area, St. John's Medical Center is a beacon."

Every year, four checks arrive at St. John’s Hospital Foundation accompanied by a beautiful handwritten card.

Richard Pieper sends all four in honor of his late wife, Katherine, with each delivered on a meaningful day. The first arrives in honor of Katherine’s birthday, the second honors the couple’s wedding anniversary, the third memorializes her passing, and the final gift comes at Christmas.

Through Richard’s generosity, stemming from his love for his wife and his appreciation for having a top-notch hospital in a small community, the Katherine Pieper Memorial Fund supports the purchase of medical equipment and other hospital needs.

“In this remote area, St. John’s Medical Center is a beacon. The capability of this hospital — for people from all over the world to have access to quality healthcare — is unique. You can depend on it for medical care and expertise.”

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"Everyone of every age, from newborns to grandmothers need proper health care."

Former St. John's Hospital Foundation Chairwoman

It is hard to imagine what Jackson would have looked like 78 years ago, and yet Addie Donnan is a woman who can remember. She has had a connection to Teton Valley since she was 12 years old. Addie remembers the long train ride from Chicago, getting picked up in Rock Springs and finally arriving at her uncle’s dude ranch in Jackson to clean and work the ranch during summer. Though she loved working at the ranch, she did have alternative motives. Addie really just liked to ride the horses more than anything.

Years later with her husband Ted, Addie visited Jackson on a vacation, and at last, they moved to the valley permanently.

Because Addie was on the board of the Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio, and because of her fundraising experience in Dayton Ohio, she was no stranger to the health care world. Once she and Ted moved to town, Addie quickly became involved with St. John’s Medical Center. She remembers the old hospital, and moving all the equipment to the then-new structure. Though it was only across the street, Addie remembers the difficulty the snow and rain made the task, and also the hilarity of the situation.

When the need for a Foundation at St. John’s Medical Center was apparent, Addie took the challenge of starting one head on by being the Foundation’s first chairwoman. She worked hard as the first chair to spread the word about the Foundation around the town. Fundraising is one of the main goals of the of the St. John’s Hospital Foundation, so Addie played a big part of that piece as well.

Though Addie’s time as the chairwoman of the Foundation is over, she still likes to stay involved. Addie says, “It is so important to keep up with the growth [of Jackson]”, and that is why she is as dedicated as she is to St. John’s Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital Foundation. Addie recognizes that everyone of every age, from newborns to grandmothers need proper health care.

“The goal is not keeping patients from death, but giving them a good life”, she told me. And that is exactly what Addie has helped St. John’s Medical Center achieve.

As time goes by Addie finds a proper hospital vital to maintaining a good way of life for herself. She also said that they took excellent care of her late husband, Ted. The tender love and care that he received was unbeatable.

Addie is confident that her friends and family can get good care here in Jackson and when she talks about the medical staff she says that she feels her loved ones are “secure in their hands”.

Addie and Ted Donnan

Lisa Rullman, John Goettler and Addie Donnan

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"I have been able to receive enough scholarships and grants to sustain my education ... This is no small feat, and I thank St. John's for their support."

Scholarship Recipient & Nursing Student

How long have you worked at St. John’s and in what department?
I have worked at St. John’s Medical Center for 2 years. My home department is the OB, where I work part-time and my secondary department is PCU, where I work pool.

What are you studying in school?
I am a Nursing student at CWC, working towards my ADN.

What does the scholarship program mean to you?
I am thankful that St. John’s has a scholarship program. Going to school, while trying to make ends meet is a very real struggle. Nursing school, as many have heard, is challenging no matter the circumstances. Going back to school years after being a traditional student has its burdens. I have been very fortunate, in that I have been able receive enough scholarships and grants to sustain my education, books and some living expenses. This is no small feat, and I thank St. John’s for their support in this endeavor.

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"This is the kind of incentive that makes me excited to be able to come back as a nurse one day at St. John's."

Scholarship Recipient & Nursing Student

How long have you worked at St. John’s and in what department?
I have been at St. John’s for 5 years I think. I did a year in PCU and 4 at the living center.

What are you studying in school?
I am studying to be a nurse.

What does the scholarship program mean to you?
The scholarship program is a way for me to try and get through school with minimal debt. This means that I can concentrate on learning instead of stressing about how I am going to pay for all of this. I am also thankful to be able to stay in this beautiful area and not have to move my family around to achieve my goals. I am not sure I would be as motivated to pursue my education otherwise. Most of all it means that I am blessed to work for a company that cares about their employees and wants to see them reach their full potential. This is the kind of incentive that makes me excited to be able to come back as a nurse one day at St. John’s.

Tell Us Why You Give

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