News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Freres, Frank contributions bolster hospital drive

Contributing writer for The Canyon Weekly

Two major donations of $1 million each have significantly boosted the Santiam Hospital & Clinics Foundation’s $5 million fundraising campaign to expand its emergency room. 

“The SH&C board is very excited about the boost which the foundation received to start the campaign,” said Dr. Guesly Dessieux, board president and family physician at the Stayton-based hospital. 

“We all are so grateful as both families and companies were there in the beginning. They both felt the necessity and importance to continue to provide the care Santiam Hospital and Clinics provides to the Santiam Canyon Community.” 

“Their generosity has set up the foundation for success,” he said.

Freres Engineered Wood, based in Lyons, and the A.J. Frank Family Foundation, based in Mill City, have deep ties to the Stayton-based hospital. Freres dates back to its opening in 1953 when founder T.G. Freres donated the land on which the original hospital was built.  

“My grandfather so appreciated the community and understood the immense value of a community hospital,” said Rob Freres, president of Freres Engineered Wood. “Santiam Hospital & Clinics is one of the few independent hospitals remaining. “It is fitting for us to continue to invest in the hospital with the ER expansion campaign,” he added. “The hospital is a vital part of our greater community.”

According to Freres, the challenge for most small community hospitals is to “survive and thrive.”

“Santiam Hospital & Clinics has stood the test of time,” he said. “It’s reassuring to have a hospital with local control, and the attention of people who know and care about you.”

Over the years the Freres family has continued meaningful giving to the hospital and was instrumental in the development of the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund, organized under the Santiam Hospital umbrella to help those affected by the 2020 Labor Day wildfires.

James Frank, president of the A.J. Frank Family Foundation, said their gift to the hospital is the largest in the family foundation’s history. The donation came on the heels of a meeting between several foundation members and Maggie Hudson, president and CEO of SH&C, and a few key members of her team. 

“We were very excited about their plans,” Frank said. “We decided we wanted to help in a big way.”

Frank encourages more people to get on board with the project. 

“It’s so worthwhile,” he said. “It’s really important and will mean so much for our community and surrounding communities.”

Formed in 1961, the A.J. Frank Family Foundation is a private foundation that primarily funds medical research and support, tuition assistance, spreading the Catholic faith, meeting human needs, and improving health. 

Frank Lumber Company also supports numerous community projects, including donating to the construction of the Santiam Canyon School District’s new high school, investing in youth sports, and sponsoring local events, including the Santiam Canyon Stampede. 

“My parents have always supported Santiam Hospital,” said Frank, calling the recent donation in line with his family’s legacy, one he hopes will generate more support for the hospital’s much-needed ER expansion.  

According to reports, the growing local population has increased the demand for ER services. This year, visits to the ER will likely exceed 18,000 patients – a 30 percent increase in just five years. The capital campaign expansion will double the number of treatment rooms from seven to 14, which should lead to shorter wait times and enhanced patient care. Technology upgrades, including e-power updates for crisis and disaster preparedness, are also part of the project.

Dr. Dessieux believes the recent donations will positively affect the projected trajectory of updating the ER by allowing the hospital to reach its goals more quickly for the expansion project.  

“We continue to ask other influential community members to help Santiam Hospital build out the infrastructure that is needed to meet the medical needs of our growing community,” Dessieux said.

Ways to give include personal, corporate, memorial, bequests, planned giving, real estate, IRA and stocks.  

To learn more about the expansion or to donate to the campaign, visit or the Santiam Hospital and Clinics Foundation on Facebook. 

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