Joe Phelps

St. Helena Hospital honors Joe Phelps

2012-08-09T00:00:00Z 2012-08-29T17:45:23Z St. Helena Hospital honors Joe PhelpsDavid Stoneberg Napa Valley Register
August 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

How many bottles of Joseph Phelps Vineyards’ Insignia would have to be sold to equal $1 million? As it turns out, it’s more than a simple math problem.

On the evening of July 31, St. Helena Hospital officials dedicated the new Joseph Phelps Foyer and honored vintner Joe Phelps for his $1 million donation ending the “Caring for the Future — 2011 Project Transform” capital campaign. The campaign raised $18.5 million, half of which was contributed by Adventist Health and half by philanthropists.

“Joe’s gift brought us home. That was the final piece of the puzzle,” said Dave Duncan, chair of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation board of directors.

The end of the campaign represents “the beginning of a real transformation” for the hospital, Duncan said. The funds raised will expand or renovate six critical areas of the hospital needed to accommodate an increasing number of patients. Those areas are a new Family Birth Center, expanded Heart and Vascular Wing, Orthopedic Wing and Intensive Care Unit, renovated patient rooms and modernized sterilization equipment.

“Joe has been incredibly generous in the Napa community over the years and particularly generous to the hospital, and I think he wanted to be a part of this campaign and have the opportunity to make a difference again,” Duncan said.

Bill Phelps, son of the 84-year-old Joe Phelps, commented on the $1 million donation: “We were really thrilled with the opportunity to cap off the capital campaign and be the ones to bring it to a successful conclusion. It meant a great deal to my dad,” he said.

Phelps said the hospital has been a “very important part of [his] father’s life” and has been “close to his heart for decades.” He said the $1 million donation made a statement about the importance of the hospital.

Phelps added many of his father’s friends, employees and family members “had very important, life-changing experiences at the hospital, all of which have worked out very, very well. It’s been important to him to see this terrific, local hospital stay in the forefront the way it has been.”

Joe Phelps “realized a long time ago that would take leadership in philanthropy,” his son said.

For more than 25 years, Joe Phelps’ donations have supported many of the hospital’s initiatives, including the comprehensive-care St. Helena Women’s Center, the hospital’s helipad, and a $1 million donation to the foundation’s earlier capital campaign, “Caring for the Future.”

Joe Phelps founded his winery in 1973 after buying a former cattle ranch near St. Helena. He began his donations to St. Helena Hospital within a few years, his son said, after he noticed that quality care was needed for his employees and their families.

Terry Newmyer, president and CEO of St. Helena Region of Adventist Health, said he has “never, ever found a community as generous” as the Napa Valley, and added its members “lift high health and healing.” And, he added, St. Helena Hospital has been named top in the nation for its quality care by numerous health rating agencies, including the Delta Group, Health Grade and NRC Picker, which named St. Helena Hospital the tops in the nation in overall patient care.

“If not for the philanthropy, we would not be able to give excellent care,” Newmyer said. He told Phelps and his family, “Because of your portfolio of giving and your dedication, this is a better community and a better hospital.”

A plaque in the foyer reads: “Joseph Phelps, through his philanthropy, has played a major role for decades in helping people of the Napa Valley. In particular, his commitment to the health care needs of his employees led directly to a lifetime of giving to St. Helena Hospital — a record of generosity which few can match, but all can admire.”

Before founding his winery in 1973, Joe Phelps ran a construction company founded by his father, Hensel Phelps, in Greeley, Colo. After building it into one of the nation’s most successful construction firms, Phelps gradually divested his interest in the company, selling it to his employees.

During the July 31 dedication ceremony, Bill Phelps remarked on his father’s 58-year career in business and said it started with Joe cornering the market on rubber bands for newsboys in his hometown of Greeley, Colo.

“He rose to the top in two fields, construction and wine, and from his earliest days in business, he knew he would succeed only if he brought along others,” Bill said. He then addressed his father: “Thank you for taking such good care and bringing us along on your journey.”

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