Hunt foundation $1M grant benefits El Paso Children's Hospital ICU

Hunt foundation $1M grant benefits El Paso Children's Hospital ICU April 5, 2012

El Paso Children's Hospital on Wednesday received a million more reasons to celebrate.

The Hunt Family Foundation donated $1 million in the form of a challenge grant to the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. The grant will match every $2 donated with $1 up to $1 million.

In appreciation, the 10th floor was renamed the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

"The bricks and mortar are a great start, but it's these kinds of donations that are going to move the hospital forward," Children's Hospital Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Duncan said during the unveiling ceremony Wednesday.

The 225,000-square-foot nonprofit hospital, which opened Feb. 14, features 122 private pediatric rooms and so far has recruited about 25 pediatric subspecialists.

The pediatric intensive care unit has 22 beds and has seen from four to 10 patients at a time since its opening, Duncan said. He added that the unit will be able to handle more patients in the coming months as specialty nurses and other health-care staff are recruited.

"Our focus has been giving to improve the quality of life in El Paso and the region, and this certainly falls within that realm," said Woody Hunt, chairman of the Hunt Family Foundation. "We have to have a more competitive quality of life, and we think this is an important part of that."

Hunt said the $1 million challenge grant is an important donation for the health of the region's children, but he noted that the foundation is strategic in its giving. By donating to the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, he said, the hospital can more easily recruit highly skilled, highly educated people who will in turn give back to the community and contribute to its economic development.

The Hunt Family Foundation supports a number of organizations across El Paso, including those in health care, education, the arts and other quality-of-life and economic development initiatives.

Most recently, the foundation awarded $10 million to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to create a school of nursing; $5 million to the University of Texas at El Paso for the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness; $1 million to El Paso Community College for student scholarships; and $1.2 million to the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region for its "Be-Y Miracles Happen" capital campaign.

"Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your vision and thank you from the bottom of our hearts," said Dennece Knight, executive director of the University Medical Center Foundation, which supports UMC, the Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network. "Without these gifts we wouldn't be able to move these programs along so quickly."

For others, however, the Hunts' philanthropy is more personal.

"We say kudos to you," said Olatunde Adeoye, whose 7-month-old daughter, Oluwatofunmi, has had four surgeries since being born with a number of health problems. The baby is now a patient in the hospital's pediatric ICU.

"If it were not for your donation," Adeoye told the Hunts, "we might not be able to continue celebrating the life and health of our daughter."

Adeoye and his wife, Olabisi, are originally from Nigeria and have lived in El Paso for eight years. Their ill daughter has a healthy twin sister, Oluwatoniloba. The couple also have 3-year-old twins.

"It's beautiful and very much needed," Adeoye said about the children's hospital and the pediatric ICU. "We are very grateful for it."

Cindy Ramirez may be reached at; 546-6151.