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May 11, 2021

’59 gift produces $11 million to relieve “pain, suffering”

File Photo/Fauquier Free Clinic
With a $3 million gift this year and more to come over the next decade, the Fauquier Free Clinic could expand preventative dental care for the needy, according to its executive director. Here, Dr. Susan Griffin treats a patient as part of her volunteer work with the clinic.
What a history. I kind of sit back in awe of the whole thing.
— Fauquier Free Clinic Executive Director Rob Marino
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
After two years of legal wrangling and negotiations, a circuit court judge last week approved an agreement that allocates more than $11 million to alleviate “pain, suffering and disease” in Fauquier County.

The Fauquier Free Clinic will receive $3 million this year and potentially millions more over the next decade, according to the order Judge Jeanette A. Irby signed May 4.

The biggest financial contribution in the free clinic’s 28-year history provides an opportunity to expand healthcare for the needy, according to Executive Director Rob Marino.

“A lot of people depend on us,” Mr. Marino said. “We’re very blessed with community support, but we’re nowhere near meeting all the needs we consider part of our mission . . .

“This is really good news for our patients, for sure.”

Although he and the clinic board have begun work on a new five-year plan, Mr. Marino cited dental care and women’s health services as potential areas of expansion, because of the new funds.

The fund agreement also allocates $750,0000 to Hospice Support of Fauquier County this year.

The Warrenton-based PATH Foundation and Northern Piedmont Community Foundation will work together to allocate remaining funds.

Those donations will follow the instructions provided in November 1959, when the Delaware-based Chichester duPont Foundation created an endowment for Fauquier’s new hospital.

That fund started with $20,000 placed under stewardship of The Fauquier National Bank of Warrenton’s trust department. Inflation would make that donation worth about $100,000 in today’s dollars.

The late Alice duPont Mills, president of the family foundation, and her husband lived at Hickory Tree Farm just south of Middleburg and helped lead fundraising in the ’50s for the new building on Hospital Hill. The campaign faced enormous financial challenges, according to Fauquier Hospital’s official history. (At bottom of story.)

Average citizens, along with those of substantial wealth, ultimately met the challenge. The duPonts’ wealth resulted from the well-known chemical company of the same name. Mrs. Mills also played a prominent role in Planned Parenthood and established a clinic for indigent women at the hospital in Warrenton.

Meanwhile, the trust that started at $20,000 grew 55,000 percent over the next six decades.

But, in creating the fund, Mrs. Mills stipulated that if the beneficiary ever discontinued operation of a hospital, the trust would “terminate.” And, the assets would go to “such charitable organization as, in the judgement of the Circuit Court of Fauquier County . . . will best employ the same to alleviate pain, suffering and disease” here.

Tennessee-based LifePoint Health in November 2013 purchased 80 percent of the not-for-profit community hospital. Five years later, publicly-traded LifePoint exercised its option to buy the remaining stake.

All proceeds went to the PATH Foundation, which has an endowment of more than $230 million. But, the foundation doesn’t operate a hospital.

So, The Fauquier Bank’s trust department — as directed in 1959 — petitioned the court to decide how to distribute the funds.

The free clinic, the hospice, PATH and the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation responded to legal notices, which ran four weeks in The Fauquier Times. Each organization, which hired legal representation, made its case for the funds or a portion thereof.

But, potential litigation evolved into negotiations among the nonprofits. They reached an agreement last fall.

In addition to the $3 million, the Fauquier Free Clinic will receive 5 percent of the fund’s remaining assets annually from 2022 to ’28. The clinic will receive 4 percent annually over the four years after that.

PATH, which initially will receive all of the trust proceeds, will establish a “donor advised fund” and give it all to the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation.

PATH can continue to make recommendations on the money’s use, all of which must follow the original instructions to relieve pain, suffering and disease in Fauquier.

“What a history,” the free clinic’s Mr. Marino said. “I kind of sit back in awe of the whole thing.”

He credited the four nonprofit organizations for working together, rather than fighting over millions of dollars.

“The process to get here has been positive. People kept in mind what this money was for,” he added.

“I think we’re farthest behind in oral health and dental care. The wait is way too long, because we provide too much emergency care and not enough routine, preventive care. We barely do any of that, because the chairs are full with emergency cases.”

Mr. Marino said the cost of dental equipment has represented a major challenge.

“So, right off the bat, there will be changes there,” he said. “We don’t intend to park this money,” although the clinic board certainly will consider investing some of it in an endowment.

The new funds will contribute to “the security of the clinic long-term; it’s reassuring.”

He added: “I don’t only want to talk about oral health. We have some women’s health needs that are not met. We need to figure out what to do, but it certainly opens a lot of doors.”

The free clinic, which started modestly in 1993, using health department space, has grown to an organization with a $1.7-million budget.

Much of that support, including its modern offices off Blackwell Road in Warrenton, comes from the PATH Foundation.

If the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation’s stewardship of the trust performs as effectively as its predecessor, that original $20,000 gift could produce millions more to support healthcare in Fauquier for decades to come.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

History of Fauquier Hospital by Fauquier Now

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