ROCHELLE — After becoming president of the Rochelle Community Hospital Foundation Board, Reed Harris began writing letters to RCH employees.
“I’ve written them to those who think outside the confines of their position and go above and beyond for patients or their peers,” Harris said. “I felt it really was required to let them know we were thinking about them."
Harris has been on the board for 10 years and has been president for the last two. Before that, the Rochelle native retired after working for the BNSF Railroad for 39 years and moved back to town. He wanted something to keep busy. He started volunteering at the hospital’s lab 12 years ago and was later convinced to join the foundation board.
“I thought it was a good fit for me,” Harris said. “I wasn't looking for a job, I just wanted to stay busy. I was also looking to give back to the city that helped raise me. I thought the hospital was a good way to do that. That's how I got started."
Harris said the board has “done a lot of good things” in his time on it. He recalled helping fund equipment like MRI, CAT and mammogram scan machines. He’s seen the board add more committees and funds. The board has also established employee scholarships for continuing education and certifications.
Having the chance to serve on the board has been “very gratifying” for Harris. When starting out, he said it was nice to know there was a foundation that helped the hospital get what it needed for patients and that there were people in the city that wanted to help.
Harris thinks around five years ago new strategy meetings started to help the board develop its mission and vision to expand the ways it helps the hospital.
“It's been very gratifying becoming president and seeing some of these things expand even further,” Harris said. “I just like giving back to the city. The community we have is very lucky to have RCH there. A place to go whenever they're sick. To have it that close and have it be a community hospital and not run by a big conglomerate is very special. Anything we can do to help the patients, employees or hospital makes me feel good."
In the future, the board president would like to expand activities to get more donors in the door. Board committees are starting to try to set up new activities besides the foundation’s annual golf outing and connect better with donors.
“I think we need to market ourselves more,” Harris said. “Some of our donors are patients and some are employees. I think we can make a closer connection if we can get out there and I think that connection will expand what our vision is."