Kathy’s House went public on Tuesday with a $12 million fundraising campaign to support the construction of its new home on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus in Wauwatosa.
The nonprofit hospital guest house operator has quietly raised funds since 2017, when Froedtert Hospital pledged $5.9 millionto help fund a new Kathy’s House facility.
The organization received Wauwatosa Common Council approval in March to build a new 36-room guest house on North 92nd Street, between West Doyne and West Wisconsin avenues. The site is just south of the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Cancer Center and the Center for Advanced Care.
The new building will double the capacity of Kathy House’s current 18-room facility at 600 N. 103rd St., which it rents from St. Camillus Health Center. The organization provides lodging for out-of-town patients and families who need to stay in Milwaukee for medical care.
Patty Metropulos, president and chief executive officer of Kathy’s House, said the organization has raised $9.6 million to date, 80 percent of its campaign goal.
In addition to the lead gift from Froedtert, significant gifts have come from the Fotsch Family Foundation, Ladish Co. Foundation, Schneider Company, and former Gustave A. Larson Co. executive Mike McBride and his wife Ginny, the organization said.
Ginny and Mike McrBride, who are Brookfield residents and longtime Kathy’s House supporters, announced on Tuesday they are issuing an additional $100,000 challenge grant to kick-start the campaign's public phase.
“We believe the best use of one’s life is to invest in something that will outlast life,” Mike McBride said. “That played a major role in our decision. This will obviously be serving people long after Ginny and I will pass. It’s an organization that inspired us when we see what they are doing for people that are coming to Milwaukee for medical treatment and the desperate need for this new facility.”
Capacity constraints, which have led to long waitlists for families, have prompted Kathy's House to plan a new larger facility. Over the past two years alone, the organization has had to turn away 500 families seeking lodging.
“Every family has been affected by cancer or some serious illness, and for those of us in Milwaukee, we’re very fortunate to have premier medical care in our own backyard,” Metropulos said. “The thing we often forget is, for folks who are not in the metro Milwaukee area, they often have to travel several hundreds of miles to get the treatment they need. In Wisconsin alone, thousands of families need to travel to receive vital medical care; that demand has increased over the past few years.”
While Kathy’s House has seen guests coming from across the country, the majority live in northeastern Wisconsin.
Kathy’s House serves about 1,500 guests annually. Guests donate an average of $32 per night, but donations aren’t required.
“In the past five years, more than 1,000 Brown County residents stayed at Kathy’s House,” said Mary Gronnert-Kollross, former foundation coordinator for Schneider, a Green Bay-based transportation and logistics company. “That number struck home because Schneider believes in giving back to organizations that help improve the quality of life for its associates. Every day, Kathy’s House helps sick people get the medical care they need, even if it’s 100 miles from home. The enterprise is proud to support that.”
Along with more rooms, the new facility will include a separate wing for patients with compromised immune systems and a patient services room for blood draws and private consultations. It also will have a kitchen, dining area, library, family room, fitness room, laundry facilities, courtyard, patio and walking trail.
“We are designing it to be a national model, not only in the physical structure and amenities, but also in the program services we’ll provide,” Metropulos said.
Cathy Buck, president of Froedtert Hospital, and Peter Engel, president and chief executive officer of Easterseals Southeastern Wisconsin and a former Johnson Bank executive, are honorary co-chairs of the campaign. It’s the first major capital campaign for Kathy’s House, which opened its guest house in 2001.
The start of construction is contingent on the completion of the transfer of land from Milwaukee County to Froedtert Hospital. Four members of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, including Froedtert, are in the process of purchasing the land on the Wauwatosa campus that they currently lease from the county.
Once it is built, Kathy’s House will own the new building, and lease the land from Froedtert. Construction is expected to take about a year to complete.