Must address money concerns

Must address money concerns

What's happening to local donor funds?

With Peoria-based OSF HealthCare set to acquire hospitals in Urbana and Danville on Feb. 1, a most important and vexing question has been raised by the two hospitals' charitable foundations — what's becoming of all the money they raised from local donors?

With the sale set to be finalized soon, the two foundation boards of Presence Covenant and Presence United Samaritans medical centers have asked for an accounting of the funds they've raised locally in Champaign-Urbana and Danville.

But they can't get answers from the current owner of the two hospitals, Chicago-based Presence Health.

More important, they want to know how much of whatever money is left will remain in the accounts of the foundations when the hospitals change hands.

Those are good questions, and they deserve prompt and specific answers.

The two foundations are charitable arms of the two hospitals with the task of raising money — both for the hospitals and the various community projects the hospitals support in furtherance of their faith-based missions.

No one should be surprised that they raise substantial sums. Now the pending purchase has complicated the financial picture.

Dr. Krishnarao Tangella, chairman of the Covenant's foundation board, told The News-Gazette that there is "more than $7 million" in foundation funds in local banks, but Presence Health has indicated the Covenant foundation will end up with $800,000 to $1 million after the sale.

"What I ask is what happened to the other $6 million?" he said.

The board chairman of the United Samaritans Foundation, Phil Meuhl, asked the same question about that foundation's funds, saying there could be as much as $1 million in locally raised money that Presence Health hasn't accounted for.

So far, answers to those questions have not been forthcoming, although a Presence spokesman said that its policy is to honor donor intent.

That means, according to a Presence vice president, all funds that were given for specific purposes will remain in local accounts for which they've been designated, and any questions about OSF's approach to philanthropy need to be directed to OSF.

OSF has, in turn, said any questions about what's becoming of the two hospital foundations' funds need to be directed to Presence Health.

Given the parties involved, there should be no problem answering the foundation boards' questions and then having a sincere discussion about the issues that have been raised. But the questions should be answered soon, before a legitimate inquiry could become much more than that.

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