Saint Mary's hospital confirmed yesterday that it will no longer contribute funds to Catherine's Care Center, a clinic caring for impoverished and elderly patients in northeast Grand Rapids. Saint Mary's contribution presently accounts for one-third of the Care Center's annual budget. Helen Lehman, a leading board member of the clinic, states that they do not know how they will replace those funds but are committed to keeping the Care Center open without Saint Mary's backing.
I'm familiar with the good works of Catherine's Care Center because it is housed in the basement of St. Alphonsus Church, where I am a parishioner. I have to tell you, I'm scratching my head over this one. Saint Mary's annual assistance to Catherine's Care Center nets out to a little more than a hundred grand. Not a large sum in the scheme of things; yet with that money, the clinic cares for 2,500 patients throughout Kent County who lack any other ready source for basic medical care. It's one of the effective charitable missions in the local healthcare system.
Yet, Saint Mary's hospital, itself maintaining a non-profit status on the basis that it serves the poor of Grand Rapids, says it cannot afford to support the Care Center any longer. However, Saint Mary's can afford to make its contribution as a one-quarter partner of the Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research consortium to the inflated lease that the players saddled that organization with to make the Boardwalk project a going concern. (Yes, that Boardwalk of Toxic Towers fame, where MERC is the anchor tenant.) Indeed, because of the rich rent Saint Mary's is helping MERC pay the Boardwalk over the next two decades, the Boardwalk's owners have put the property up for sale with an astounding price tag of $38.5 million dollars.
So, I suppose the Care Center's patients can take comfort in knowing that their loss will in some small way help to put a few bucks in the wallets of the needy owners of the Boardwalk including Fifth Third Bank, National City Community Development Corporation, Thomas Beckering, David Mehney and his wife, and James Dykema and his pal Scott McGregor. Then again, perhaps these players who fancy themselves as concerned citizens will return some of their Toxic Towers largesse to help make up the deficit Saint Mary's has left Catherine's Care Center with?
Hmm, I'm not holding my breath either, dear readers.