Dr. Bob Hartmann and his wife, Mel Welsh, are no strangers to the small, rural community of Amador. They moved to Amador County in 1988, where Bob worked at Sutter Amador Hospital until his retirement in June 2019.
“I’ve been on the medical staff at the local hospital since it was changed from Amador Hospital to Sutter Amador Hospital in 1992,” said Bob.
“I was an internist in many parts of the hospital, sometimes helping in the ICU until two in the morning. Then, around 1994-1995, they asked me to join the local hospital board of directors, which ended up being a 9-year term. When that term was over, there was a small period of time when I was on the philanthropy board, but public health got really busy with SARS, 9/11, bioterrorism, small-pox vaccines, H1N1, etc, so I didn’t have enough time to stay on that board.”
Less than a year after his retirement in 2019, Bob went back to work to help a community in need.
“Mel and I were hiking and going on trips when all of a sudden the coronavirus came out of nowhere,” Bob said.
“When that hit, I decided to return to the public health arena. It’s been such an incredibly interesting and challenging time.”
Mel also has a history in the medical field as a registered nurse. She was hired to start the Sutter Care Coordination Program at Sutter Amador Hospital back in 2013, and retired from that position in 2016.Like Bob, Mel knew that retirement wasn’t going to stop her from helping others during the crisis.
“Mel is a retired nurse, so she was eligible to be a vaccinator,” said Bob. “She’s now worked in about 5 clinics so far, helping to vaccinate people throughout the county.” Their generosity didn’t stop there. They volunteered their time helping to vaccinate tribal elders and some of the tribal members who work at Jackson Rancheria, and also helping to clean up homeless encampments, providing the homeless with blankets and other resources to help them survive.
“I think it’s in our DNA to help others,” said Mel, to which Bob agreed.
“I think it does come naturally for us. We’ll see something that we realize isn’t equitable, and maybe something good could come out of helping,” said Bob.
Bob and Mel have stayed true to their philanthropic tendencies for many decades, donating generously over the years to help fund several different programs and equipment. They even played an integral role in helping to fund the new Sutter Amador Hospital building back in 1998.
“After having discussions with people that we knew and respected in the community who were involved with the philanthropy board at the time, and just sitting down, listening to their ask of us and why, we knew how important this was for our community,” said Bob.
When Bob and Mel began to put together their estate in 2017, they knew they had to continue their legacy of giving to the hospital they know and love.
“When it was time to fill out our will, we knew we needed to give a percentage of it to Sutter Amador Hospital Foundation,” said Mel.
“It was a no-brainer for us because we are just so proud and protective of the hospital.” Their belief in the hospital is so strong that, not only did they establish a legacy for themselves, they advocate for others to do the same. In fact, Mel currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Sutter Amador Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, where she and Bob have frequent discussions with other potential donors in the community.
“We need to encourage other people to become Legacy members as well, and to bequeath something to the hospital foundation,” said Bob.
“We’ve got to trust in the people who have been working in philanthropy for many years, and trust that the Sutter Amador Hospital Foundation and the hospital administration will do the right thing with it. Having been integrated in the hospital system for many years, Mel and I can personally attest that these gifts go towards the best possible use for our community.”
Small or large, giving a gift through your will or trust will have a remarkably significant impact on those who need it the most.