Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 25, 2013

Doctors create endowment to help those who ‘fall through the cracks of the health care system’

CUMBERLAND — When Wayne Spiggle and Peter Halmos enrolled in medical school, they had one goal — helping their patients.

Their dedication to that goal has been unwavering for more than 50 years and now the pair has launched an initiative they believe will continue to serve the residents of this region for generations to come.

The pair have created, with the assistance of the Community Trust Foundation, an endowment that is designed to help provide health care to those individuals who “fall through the cracks of the health care system.”

The mission of the Health Care Fund will be to make health care more accessible and affordable to residents in Allegany, Garrett and Mineral counties.

Spiggle has been considering this fund for more than two years. He has witnessed many changes in the health care industry and has grown increasingly concerned with a gap he believes exists preventing families from receiving the health care they need.

“Dr. Halmos and I are inviting our colleagues to help us create a fund that will help people who fall through the cracks of the health care system,” he said.

Both physicians believe the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will increase access to health care, but fear the required co-pays will be too costly for many, leaving many families in dire financial straits. They hope the creation of this fund will help support groups and agencies that assist those in need.

“We share a concern with our fellow physicians, dentists and other health care professionals that health care is becoming more about paperwork and patient turnover, leaving many without the care they need,” Spiggle said. “We are asking those colleagues to join us in creating a legacy that will help address those gaps.”

Spiggle is confident his colleagues will respond to this call for assistance, just as so many have done, in the past, for similar initiatives.

“Doctors, dentists and other clinicians donate their care through the Allegany Health Right program and the annual free dental clinic. Area hospitals reduce charges for people who cannot afford their care and health centers offer care at reduced costs,” he said. “There is a true sense of generosity in this region and my generation of colleagues has always worked together to address the needs of our communities. Peter and I believe that spirit of cooperation will inspire others to join our efforts.”

Grant Irvin, CTF Donor Development officer, has worked with Halmos and Spiggle to establish the fund and the men have set a goal of raising $200,000 to establish the fund.

The principal of the fund will be invested through the CTF and earnings will be distributed to assist the efforts of area nonprofits, including Allegany Health Right, the Family Crisis Resource Center and the Union Rescue Mission, to provide medication, transportation, education and other services.

Irvin said the availability and affordability of health care costs has consistently been an area of concern identified through several needs assessments and surveys conducted over the past several years.

He applauded the efforts of Spiggle and Halmos, calling them an inspiration: “Both have had great careers and have done great work for their patients and their desire to continue help others is an inspiration.”

The CTF was founded in 2006 as a result of the vision of the late Robert Ebert.

The CTF has grown quickly in the years since, and now boasts 21 charitable funds and has donated more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations in Allegany, Garrett and Mineral counties.

Halmos and Spiggle said contributing to the Health Care Fund is a celebration of the many years of hard work and dedications so many have given to their patients and their families.

“This fund will be a celebration of the generosity, philanthropy and work that we have done together,” Spiggle concluded. “I believe this fund can truly be a significant contribution for our region and will demonstrate the fidelity our colleagues have always shown to this community.”

“Physicians, by nature, are compassionate and go into the medical field with the goal of helping others, and through this fund our colleagues can create a legacy of that compassion,” Halmos said. “We hope this is the first step in creating a fund that will continue in perpetuity, providing assistance to those in need for many years to come.”

For more information, contact the CTF at 301-876-9172 or visit www.ctfinc.org.

Contact Angie Brant at abrant @times-news.com.

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