Batesville native named director of White River Health System Foundation

By Lisa Burnett Published November 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Nick Hillemann

Matt McDonald is the new White River Health System Foundation director. He’ll be in charge of leading the foundation through cultivation, implementation and administration of foundation activities.

BATESVILLE — Matt McDonald of Batesville is doing his part in helping his local hospital move forward. On Oct. 14, he started as director of the White River Health System Foundation.

“The foundation is the fundraising arm of the hospital,” McDonald said. “It’s separate from the hospital, but it’s part of the hospital. We do grants, fundraisers and campaigns — that kind of stuff.”

McDonald, who grew up in Batesville and is a graduate of Batesville High School, has grown to appreciate his hospital and said he looks forward to finding ways to help the facility.

“[The foundation] does what it can to meet the needs of the hospital,” he said. “We have several fundraisers [every year] — some large, some small.”

Before getting the director’s spot, McDonald was a member of the Batesville City Council, the United Way of Independence County Board of Directors and the Independence County Chapter of the University of Arkansas Alumni Association.

“I was born and raised here,” McDonald said. “I was at First Community Bank [before I started with the hospital]. I helped manage special assets for almost three years.”

With his new job, McDonald said, he is excited to be more involved in the community.

“This not only gives me a chance to be a part of the hospital,” he said. “Because the hospital is such a large part of the community, I get to be a part of the community.”

He will get to work with city leaders, along with people in the community who work with the hospital on a regular basis.

Though the list of fundraisers the hospital hosts each year is extensive, McDonald said he is most excited about running the annual Golf Classic, which started in 1995.

“I’m a golfer, so being able to run that large tournament will be fun,” he said.

He’s just now getting warmed up in his job and doesn’t know exactly what the road ahead will have in store for him, but an emergency-room expansion is something McDonald said he expects will move forward.

“It will be a large campaign and a learning experience for me,” he said. “They’re wanting to enlarge the ER, but it’s not 100 percent a done deal yet.”

An example of a project the foundation is currently taking on is finding a way to pay for the hospital’s new linear accelerator, which produces and delivers radiation to cancer patients.

“The hospital has asked us if there are grants out there that would help pay for it,” McDonald said. “That’s one example of what we do. If there’s something the hospital needs, [it] can pay for it, but if there’s a way out there where somebody can help, we look for it.”

McDonald said he’s still meeting people he will work with, but as he gets more used to his role, he’ll talk to more departments in the hospital.

“We’re going to try to help where there’s a need,” he said.

The foundation started in 1993, McDonald said.

The diversity McDonald has experienced in his day-to-day duties has surprised him in his job so far, he said.

“The hospital has so many different pieces,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to be involved with. It’s not the same every day.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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