For the first time in its history, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund has had a leadership change.
Kim Moore, the fund’s first president, retired at the end of January. David Jordan, former executive director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, is the new president.
The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund was formed in 1986 by the Kansas West Conference, now the Great Plains Conference, of the United Methodist Church, using $30 million of the proceeds from the sale of Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. The Kansas Health Foundation was also endowed by the 1985 sale of Wesley Medical Center — at the time, a nonprofit hospital affiliated with the United Methodist Church — to the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).
Moore had been working as an attorney for more than a decade at Kansas’ largest law firm — Foulston Siefkin, in Wichita — when he applied for the leadership job with the fund. A native Kansan and the son of a legislator, he felt he understood the needs of Kansans. He still maintains a small family farm near Longton, in Elk County.
“I was interested in a job where I could put my social consciousness to work more than I had with my legal career,” says Moore, who had specialized in employee benefits and tax-exempt organizations. “I felt both an intellectual and spiritual call to do this. I wanted to use a different set of my talents.”
Max Clayton, the fund’s board chair, noted Moore’s impact the following way in the release announcing Moore’s retirement: “The culture of the fund — its DNA, its way of operating and, one might even say, its personality — has been informed by Kim’s vision, passion and embrace of constant learning and innovation.”
Moore looks at his leadership tenure as having two halves: The first 15 years were focused on investing and growing the fund and laying the groundwork for some health initiatives, and the second half has been marked by a more strategic focus to accomplish specific health and wellness objectives for Kansans of all ages. Under his leadership, the fund provided more than $68 million in grants for more than 2,200 projects, according to fund officials.
In those first 15 years, for example, the fund helped spread Medicare-certified hospices statewide, Moore says.
Now the fund’s strategic philanthropy has three primary areas of focus: breast-feeding, early childhood neurological needs and health delivery systems in rural Kansas.
Using the World Health Organization’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative list of maternity-care practices, the fund developed an initiative called High 5 for Mom & Baby to help Kansas hospitals better support breast-feeding, Moore says. The initiative launched in June 2012, and now about 80 percent of births in Kansas happen at hospitals that have adopted those five evidence-based maternity care practices, he says. The fund, working in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, is helping Kansas hospitals to adopt the complete list of 10 WHO-recommended practices as a second stage of the work, he says.
The fund’s current NeuroNurture campaign addresses early childhood toxic stress that can negatively “rewire” the brain in lasting ways and predispose the body to chronic disease later in life. For this campaign, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund has joined with four other Kansas grant-makers — Kansas Health Foundation, Wyandotte Health Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation and Hutchinson Community Foundation. With the NeuroNurture campaign, early childhood advocacy groups are implementing a best-practice program of 10 home visits for parents of children ages 6 months to 2 years to give them techniques to help reduce the impact of stressors in their children’s lives.
“All young children in Kansas should have the opportunity to develop strong emotional and social characteristics,” Moore says of the initiative.
Healthcare delivery systems in rural areas continue to be important to ensure there is patient access and provider viability. The fund has formed a rural health network with eight western Kansas hospitals to create shared opportunities to learn and implement programs. The fund’s Healthy Congregations initiative supports United Methodist churches in organizing effective congregational health ministries to help community members. More than 70 communities in Kansas and Nebraska have such assets, according to the fund.