By Don Eriksson, Staff Writer
AYER — More than $3 million remaining from the sale of the former Deaconess-Nashoba
Hospital to Essent Healthcare has been moved into two health care funds that will
be professionally managed by two community foundations.
The move was announced last week in North Middlesex Savings Bank’s executive
offices on Main Street. Bank President William Marshall hosted the press conference.
The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts and the Greater Lowell
Community Foundation (GLCF) will manage the Deaconess-Nashoba endowments, officially
called the Nashoba Valley Community Health Care Fund and the Nashoba Valley Professional
Health Care Education Fund.
Edward Strachan, president of the Nashoba Community Hospital Corporation, said
the board is “nearing the end of a three-and-a-half year process with the
sale” and described the group as “a corporation we hope will be defunct
within three months.”
With the creation of the funds, the corporation will be able “to pass on
proceeds and accumulate contributions over decades (to) continue the purpose of
health care,” he said.
Each foundation will receive more than $1 million. Ninety percent will be disbursed
to support public health education, hospice care, home health and long-term care
services, and 10 percent for the education of health care professionals, said
The funds will make estimated annual distributions of $150,000 to nonprofit organizations,
municipalities and other agencies in the 13 towns the former hospital served —
Ashby, Ayer, Bolton, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Littleton, Lunenburg,
Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford.
The two foundations manage roughly $24 million in combined assets. Between the
two they have distributed approximately $1.2 million in grants to the greater
Nashoba Valley region since 1997.
In a unique arrangement, they will equally divide the former hospital’s
money and establish a joint advisory committee that will make recommendations
regarding what needs to be addressed, said Thomas Bagley, chairman of the Community
Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. He said there may be potential for
a partnership between workers to better leverage distribution.
“I’m sure we’ll have a very thoughtful process. We’ve
made a commitment to work closely together, not to strengthen us but to better
work with the communities and use us as a vehicle,” said David Kronberg,
executive director of Greater Lowell Community Foundation.
Kronberg described the use of foundations to manage endowments as a “democratization
of philanthropy” that “allows philanthropists to create endowment
funds to address the issues important to them and to spread out the money with
more of a potential.”
That is one of the principal reasons the former hospital’s board made the
decision it did, said Strachan.
“It’s an effective use of capital to have organizations with money
managers and the ability to accept applications from communities,” he said.
GLCF board member Winslow Duke, of Pepperell, said philanthropists know they can
do more good through the foundation but a hidden benefit is that initial size
doesn’t matter because the foundation offers the flexibility to easily change
The next step in the process will be a community health care assessment or scan,
to determine demographics, health care resources, nonprofit agencies and where
they are located in order to be able to prioritize needs, Kronberg said.
“We don’t want to spend a long time studying,” he said.
Marshall explained that the hospital’s money is spread within several banks.
He said he offered his offices for the conference because of its central location.
“We feel this is a historic event,” Marshall said, adding that he
is pleased Essent is committed to building a new hospital at the site. “This
is a real feel-good story and hopefully we’ll get people excited,”