Long-time CGH Health Foundation trustee Linda Olds-Steinert, Sterling, has witnessed every phase of growth, every change of leadership, every new project and more during its 33-year history. She recently retired, having served as trustee for 27 years. During her tenure, Olds-Steinert served as Board Chair.
She was also Community Services Committee Chair for nine years and Scholarship Committee Chair for four years. Olds-Steinert had the opportunity to see the foundation develop from a research project assigned to the then Marketing Director, Jim DeLange, by former CEO Darryl Wahler and Board Chair Ron Smeltzer, to its charter as a 501 (c) 3 in 1987.
“Linda’s medical knowledge and passionate vision for the Foundation were her strengths,” according to Roger Wait, Foundation Chair. “She was a very committed proponent of providing wellness education to raise awareness of disease. She was a big part of the growing reputation early on of the Foundation’s ability to pinpoint areas of need and establish programs to fill that need.”
She and DeLange were close friends. “Jim was very enthusiastic about the Foundation project and spoke constantly about the potential he saw for one in our community. Watching it progress from an idea to its “birth” was as enjoyable as it was educational,” she said. “I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to stay close to his mission and watch it grow. I know he would be overwhelmed with its success, just as I am.”
Herself the Nurse Manager of the Medical Floor, Olds-Steinert was very aware of the impact a foundation could have on the hospital and the area communities. She was just as committed as DeLange in making it happen because “we have pockets of people in our area that have needs that just cannot be filled with a monetary donation from a charity,” she said. “These people need education on basic health care and an opportunity to receive healthcare services not covered by everyday programs.”
Ms. Olds-Steinert watched as the idea became reality and five years later was asked to become a trustee herself. “I am grateful to have been able to help expand what Jim had accomplished before his death. I have watched the Foundation grow and watched it change.”
She said, “I have been so proud of what we have done in relationship to our cooperative work with the Whiteside County Health Department Prescott Dental Clinic, our Eyeglasses for Kids/Adults Program and our work with the diabetic population in our community. These are areas that are not always recognized as needs. Another of my favorite cooperative projects was our joining the CGH staff in honoring radiologist Dr. Surjit Hermon’s passing with purchase of new breast ultrasound equipment.”
Olds-Steinert led many discussions with Foundation partners in discerning that need and developing appropriate resources to find solutions. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the CGH Community Services staff carried out the many initiatives created and funded by the Foundation. Major focus areas included heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
More recently, she oversaw a growing scholarship program sponsored by Foundation donors. She helped lead creation of several new nursing scholarships. There are now eight nursing and healthcare scholarships awarded each year, totaling close to $30,000.
“We commend Linda for her devotion to the Foundation, for her leadership and insight,” said Wait. “We thank her for her part in supporting the vision and creation of the Foundation.”