By Lanier Laney
In 1988, Alice Moss began her job at Beaufort Memorial Hospital as the first person hired by them to start a fundraising department — a new position at the time. Twenty-five years and millions of dollars raised later, her dedicated work as executive director of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation has impacted all of us in Northern Beaufort County now for nearly a generation.
Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) was and still is the only not-for-profit hospital between Charleston and Savannah. Says Alice, “When I was hired, it was a half-time position and only me. No support. No one at the hospital knew what to think. The idea of ‘fundraising’ made most folks a little squeamish, even though the hospital was having a difficult time financially. My office was first in a small room in the OR area, next door to endoscopy, then I was moved to the basement.”
Through a lot of hard fundraising work, community outreach, and the creation and success of the Valentine Ball as an annual hospital fundraiser, Alice was a key member of the team that helped the hospital turn the corner and progress towards a much brighter future. She said, “The extraordinary visibility that the Valentine Ball was building along with the success we were having recruiting more doctors to Beaufort and committed volunteer leadership to our foundation board — lots of things came together at just the right time. The path and the opportunities to help the hospital grow and build resources for the future became clearer for all of us.”
Today, the team supporting the BMH Foundation consists of five full time and one part-time staff. The foundation has provided more than $22 million to BMH to underwrite projects as small as the annual summer camp for children with asthma and as large as the multi-million dollar projects of the Cochrane Heart Center, the Emergency Room improvements, and paying 50 percent of building and equipment costs for the Keyserling Cancer Center.
One of Alice’s most significant achievements has been her role in establishing a permanent endowment fund. The foundation seeded the fund in 1991 with a $10,000 bequest, setting up a long-term investment management philosophy, a 4 and a half percent annual payout rate to the hospital, and a trigger of $5 million that they had to reach to start the payout. Today, the endowment value is $10 million, even after paying out $3 million to BMH. These endowment payouts are in addition to the foundation’s annual underwriting of specific equipment and programs. But these dollars are unrestricted to the hospital and can supplement the drastically shrinking revenue now being paid for patient care. When Alice encourages members of the community to “leave a legacy” she is working to further build that endowment to help BMH weather the inevitable financial challenges that lie ahead, so that our community can continue to have the best healthcare possible.
Says Alice, “Yes, the dollars are in the millions now, and that’s what it takes to effectively impact hospital finances with increasing costs and declining revenues. But not every gift is large. I never lose sight of the fact that our community lacks a strong corporate or industrial base … so 97 percent of our contributions come from individual donations (which is very unusual for a hospital), in gifts of all sizes. The fact that Beaufortonians have pulled together to make such a commitment to our hospital, our neighbors and our healthcare speaks volumes and sure makes me proud to be a part of this community.”
Alice Beddingfield Moss came to her profession in a unique way, that looking back on it, was perfect preparation for her future job of helping our nonprofit hospital here in Beaufort County. Her Harvard-trained father decided to return to his rural North Carolina roots to help the people he grew up with.
“Daddy was a country doctor — Ed Beddingfield, Jr. MD. We lived in Stantonsburg, N.C., population 800 (only two zeros is correct!). He was a very caring person, was on call 24/7 and sometimes just got paid in either rabbits, squirrels or collards,” recalls Alice with a laugh. “When I was very young, we lived upstairs over his clinic. The clinic had exams rooms, labor and delivery rooms, an X-ray — this was the 1950’s. Sometimes I helped sterilize and powder the rubber gloves. I often went on housecalls with him. He delivered many in-home babies. In the ’70’s he became active in medical politics and some of the early efforts to develop physician extenders and other solutions to the emerging issues of healthcare access for the poor and elderly, especially in rural areas. Growing up in a small town and around medicine make this job a natural fit and give me the passion for what I do.”
Alice graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a masters degree in Regional Planning and held prestigious jobs in the N.C. Dept. of Natural Resources and Community Development and the Arizona’s Governor’s Office of Economic Planning and Development before coming to Beaufort. Today, as executive director of Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation, she helps build relationships between the hospital and the community, and develops and oversees philanthropic support for BMH. Says Alice, “I participate in strategic planning and leadership of the hospital, which helps me serve as an advocate for the community within the hospital while I am also advocating for the hospital throughout the community.”
About her job, Alice says, “The people at Beaufort Memorial are incredible. I have so much respect and appreciation for what they do at the bedside and behind the scenes. Our leadership gets stronger and stronger both in running the hospital as a business and in modeling our core values. I honestly feel privileged to work there. We are so fortunate to have a hospital the caliber of Beaufort Memorial in a town our size.”
Alice’s work philosophy? “Believe in what you do. Pursue and persist but keep perspective. Never be above laughing at yourself.”
As for the future, Alice says she sometimes thinks about the “r” word (retirement), “But I’m loving the work and all the opportunities to really make a difference for the future of the hospital and the community.”
For the health of Beaufort, let’s hope Alice will keep working for a long time!