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    Hospital lands $100,000 gift for expansion

    Volunteers at Helen Ellis Memorial raised the money through bake sales and other fundraisers. The hospital plans to expand its emergency room.

    By KATHERINE GAZELLA

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2001


    TARPON SPRINGS -- Volunteers at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital on Friday jump-started an effort to expand the emergency room with a donation of $100,000.

    The Hospital Auxiliary raised the money through sales at the gift shop and the snack bar, bake sales and other fundraisers. They gave hospital administrators the money at a ceremony Friday morning.

    The expanded emergency room "will be a great benefit to our community," said Clifford Pendleton, president of the volunteer group.

    The hospital will need $3-million to $5-million to build a larger emergency room on the side of the hospital near Alt. U.S. 19, said Joseph Kiefer, president and chief executive officer of the hospital. He said it will be about 18 months before construction begins.

    A larger emergency room is needed to accommodate a steady increase in the number of patients, he said.

    "Because of changes in managed care, more and more people are coming to emergency rooms," he said.

    The emergency room has nine treatment areas and can treat 19,000 patients a year. The new space will have 15 to 18 treatment areas and will be able to handle 30,000 to 35,000 patients a year, Kiefer said.

    The hospital, which became affiliated with Tampa-based University Community Hospital last year, probably will need to launch a fundraising campaign to raise some money and borrow the remaining amount. The donation from the volunteers, he said, "is not a bad start at all."

    Volunteers work at the front counter, the gift shop and the snack bar at the hospital. They also work at health fairs and special events and in offices at Helen Ellis.

    Evelyn Pearn, 78, of Tarpon Springs has worked in the snack bar, the gift shop and as an office employee. She said she is proud of all the money the volunteers have donated through the years.

    "When you see all the things they use the money for, it makes you feel good that the hospital can do all these things, in part because of us," she said.

    - Staff writer Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182.

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