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IU Northwest News

Spotlight on Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana


CFNI makes commitment to support students

Wednesday Nov 05, 2014


Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana (CFNI) touches countless lives in Northwest Indiana. Among those lives are the students of Indiana University Northwest and IU School of Medicine – Northwest.

This non-profit organization provides leadership and resources for the enhancement of health and quality of life in Northwest Indiana. Its endeavors focus not only on ensuring high quality healthcare, but also the best in medical and healthcare education.

Frankie Fesko, chairperson of the Board of Directors for CFNI, says she is particularly moved when she sees how the foundation’s support has so positively impacted the lives of students. It reminds her of the importance of CFNI’s commitment to IU Northwest and IUSM-NW.

“Education has the capacity to open students to new ideas and new worlds and by doing so, make our community a better place,” Fesko said. “As a former educator, I am very proud of the role CFNI has played in supporting IU Northwest and its students. Our company values higher education. It is integral to our ability to provide the very best healthcare for our community.”  

Each November, IU Northwest shines a spotlight on its most treasured supporters, those who have provided the University with distinguished service and made significant contributions in the lives of students.

CFNI is among those honored at this year’s Chancellor’s Medallion Celebration, in which donors and scholarship recipients come together to celebrate the significance of philanthropy. Fesko says she is humbled to accept this high honor bestowed by Chancellor William J. Lowe in recognition of the foundation’s continued support of student scholarships for both IU Northwest and IUSM-NW.

CFNI is the parent company of the hospitals of the Community Healthcare System (Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center), the Community Cancer Research Foundation, and Hartsfield Village, a senior living community. The development and support of the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster is another of CFNI’s key contributions to the community.  

Critical to CFNI’s mission of supporting endeavors that contribute to the health of the community is the presence of a thriving future pool of health professionals. As Fesko points out, a highly skilled work force is critical for an organization encompassing three hospitals and a senior living facility.

“Our mission is to provide the highest quality healthcare to the members of our community,” Fesko said. “We are very fortunate to have in our community institutions like IU Northwest and IU School of Medicine – Northwest, which can offer advanced training to our current and future workforce.”

Even more importantly, Fesko said, shortages of nurses and other healthcare professionals is a harsh reality both locally and nationally. The Association for American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. could face a shortage of more than 130,600 physicians by 2025. She said that having a strong nursing and medical school program in Northwest Indiana will help build a pool of skilled healthcare professionals that are more likely to remain in this community.

Supporting scholarships for students, not only in healthcare fields, but all professions, Fesko said, is important to the region’s economy and overall quality of life.

“Our economy and our quality of life depend on a highly educated workforce,” Fesko said. “These investments in higher education are among the most important we can make as one of the area’s largest employers.”

CFNI is represented on the Chancellor’s Commission on Community Engagement, a group of business and non-profit leaders who work together to bring about positive change in the community.

“The quality of one’s health is related to so many social factors,” Fesko said. “We are very interested in working with groups like IU Northwest to identify and remove barriers to ensure the people of our community have better health outcomes and a higher quality of life.”

For Fesko, her role at the CFNI is more than a career. Involved with CFNI since its inception as the corporate parent of Community Hospital in Munster, she remains personally committed to the mission of CFNI. In fact, Fesko was a part of the Auxiliary that helped raise the money to build the original 104-bed hospital, which admitted its first patient in 1973.

“CFNI is a caring and compassionate organization that puts the wellbeing of the community first and foremost,” she said, “and that is why I have continued to stay involved.”

Fesko also serves on the board for the Community Cancer Research Foundation, CFNI’s non-profit organization dedicated to improving cancer care in Northwest Indiana.

Frankie Fesko and her husband, Tim, also have a personal connection to IU Northwest. One of their sons is an alumnus, having earned an M.B.A. degree from IU Northwest after earning his Doctor of Optometry degree at IU Bloomington. Tim Fesko is a longtime member of the IU Northwest Board of Advisors and currently serves as chairman of the IUSM-NW Board of Advisors.

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