The Salem Health and Wellness Foundation was created with the proceeds from the sale of the nonprofit Memorial Hospital of Salem County when it was converted from nonprofit to for-profit status in 2002. As the only foundation focusing exclusively on health disparities in our county—a small rural community with approximately 64,000 residents living within a 338 square mile radius with nearly one half of the land actively farmed—the foundation has supported its nonprofit partners serving our residents with more than $17.8 million in grant funds.

However, the foundation never lost sight of the importance of using its assets to help the Memorial Hospital of Salem County remain viable. In 2013, when rumblings of diminished services and loss of physician practices in the hospital were followed closely by rumors of closure, the foundation sought out potential buyers who might partner with the foundation to bring the hospital back to nonprofit status.

When the foundation’s board of trustees made the commitment to finding a potential buyer, the challenges were admittedly great. We needed to find a partner that would be committed: to bringing needed health care services to our residents, to being a partner with the community, and to being a partner with the foundation to promote and participate in joint health improvement goals. We were not only a catalyst in this effort—without our funding this project would not come to fruition.

In late 2017, the foundation met with Community Healthcare Associates, an interested buyer, to assess their vision for the hospital campus. These conversations were the beginning of merging CHA’s vision with the foundation’s vision to ensure a long-term presence and stability of a premier health care facility proximate to residents and to address the specialized needs of its large at-risk populations in behavioral health, opioid treatment, obesity, and long-term care.

Read the full article about impact investing in health care by Brenda Goins at Grantmakers In Health.