In a display of how strong their commitment is to the residents of Trumbull County, the TMH Foundation and its board of directors showed an extraordinary amount of patience and determination when its cases went through the courts following the bankruptcy filing of Forum Health. The group believed that the result would be the continued existence of the foundation and the ability to provide grants, and scholarships with a health-related focus.
"What actually happened is around 2009 Forum Health filed for a voluntary petition in bankruptcy court, Chapter 11," said Dave Kostolansky, chairman of the board of the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation. "All of their assets were involved in the bankruptcy. What they actually ended up doing is drawing all of their related entities, and one of them was the foundation. We became one of what was called the obligated group of debtors. When this agreement was done many years prior, no one ever expected Forum Health to ever declare bankruptcy. This obligated group was put together simply to get a better interest from bonds that Forum Health was looking to do some expansion within the Forum Health Group. So people signed off on it, not expecting anything to happen. Then, lo and behold in 2009, we were drawn into it as part of this obligated group."
The TMH Foundation was originally created in 1976 as an Ohio nonprofit to support Trumbull Memorial Hospital. At that time, it was known as Trumbull Memorial Hospital Foundation. The purpose was to benefit Trumbull County residents through funding of medical research, medical education, equipment, hospital and medical care.
Tribune Chronicle / Nancilynn Gatta
The TMH?Foundation recently presented its 2014 scholarships. Recipients are pictured at the event, including, front row, from left:?Valerie S. Helco, Danielle J. Ford, Tyler Spain and Shannon L. Whittaker. In the second row are:?Peg Krozier of TMH Foundation, Katelyn J. Kelemann, Morgan M. Miller, Sarah K. Rich, Emily Trunick, and Dave Kostolansky, TMH?Foundation board chair. Missing from the photo are Alexandra R. Dowell and Danielle L. Miracle.
As Forum Health's bankruptcy occurred, TMH Foundation's legal battles began.
"In 2010, the court approved the sale of Forum Health through a bidding process to anyone who wanted to satisfy the debt to the bondholders and move forward," Kostolansky said.
Subsequently, Forum Health was sold to a company in Tennessee, including the assets of the obligated group. TMH Foundation went to court to retain its autonomy as a nonprofit and not be included in the sale to pay off debt.
"Trumbull Memorial Hospital was a nonprofit before they filed bankruptcy," said Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas Swift. "When Trumbull Memorial was sold, it became a for-profit hospital. The foundation through the bankruptcy court determined that it wasn't part of the proceedings, but that left the foundation separate and distinct from the hospital because the foundation is a 501 3(c) nonprofit entity. So what had to be accomplished at that point was the foundation was no longer part of Trumbull Memorial Hospital, and it couldn't be part of the purchasers because that was a for-profit entity," Swift said of his decision to separate the foundation from the assets of Forum Health.
Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation was no longer the supported group of Trumbull Memorial Hospital. A decision had to be made.
"At that point, they determined the most efficient way (to continue) to run the foundation was to make it a part of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley," said Swift. "What they were asking for was to allow the foundation to become part of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and, No. 2, continuing the original charitable purpose of establishing these foundations as part of the requirement of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. That was not part of the original establishment of the foundation."
When the foundation was granted permission to have CFMV as their supporting organization, the foundation name changed.
"We changed the name to Trumbull Memorial Health," Kostolansky said. "Part of the reason for that is our mission now is a little different because originally it was to provide services to the hospital, but now our new mission is basically to carry out charitable care, educational purposes and just for the health of Trumbull County residents."
The decision to go with a supporting organization held several advantages for the foundation.
"Basically, TMH Foundation had a couple of choices. They could have become a stand-alone private foundation or they could affiliate with a community foundation," said Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. "As a private foundation, their operating costs would be significantly higher (for) space, staff, etc. With Community Foundation of Ma-honing Valley, we provide staff support and other things to handle operations. The CFMV staff also is familiar with the nonprofit agencies and has experience with grant making and distribution. CFMV also has more flexibility in the amount of distributions, and there are no excise taxes."
The board of directors, whom Kostolansky refers to as "super devoted professional people who want to do the right thing," were determined that the foundation continue to provide assistance to the residents of Trumbull County.
Kostolansky cites as their greatest accomplishment, "I think the fact that we are alive and well and still living in Warren, Ohio, and we're taking these dollars and we're now putting it to good use for Trumbull County residents and health-related issues."
The future looks bright for the foundation, and Kostolansky has lofty goals for their future allocations in grants and scholarships.
"As an organization trying to do maybe a 5 percent grant each year (in) total dollars, we'd be giving away a half a million dollars each year."