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Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - Heart Gala Raises Funds For New Equipment

Heart Gala Raises Funds For New Equipment

February 11, 2012 ---
Let Me Call You Sweetheart was the theme of the 12th Annual Heart Gala to benefit the Morristown-Hamblen Hospital Foundation and Heart, Lung and Vascular Center at Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System.

Red hearts and silver sparkles decorated the Dean Coffman Center at All Saints’ Episcopal School as people packed the room to shop, bid and dine for the foundation’s No. 1 annual fundraising event.
 
The evening’s festivities kicked off with a silent auction with items featuring the theme of romance.
 
In addition to being fun, the shopping was for a good cause — to raise enough funds to purchase Intravascular Temperature Management System for use in the hospital’s critical care areas, which consist of the Emergency Department, Critical Care Unit and Heart, Lung and Vascular Center. As with previous years, proceeds from Saturday night’s festivities will be used to make this acquisition possible.
 
The honorary chair for this year’s heart gala was David Helton. In addition to being known as the owner of local Subway restaurants, Helton has also been on the receiving end of the services offered at the hospital. “It’s a great honor to be chosen as a chairperson,” Helton said. He explained that in 2007, he and his wife, Carolyn, were getting ready to attend the first University of Tennessee game of the season, when he began having chest pains. He wavered between going to the game or going to the hospital. He opted to go to the hospital — a decision which saved his life. Helton told gala attendees that he got to the hospital at about 3:15 p.m. By 5 p.m. he was in a room and a stent was in place. “It was more serious than I thought it was,” Helton said, explaining that his main artery, often known as a the widow maker, was 100 percent blocked. “You never know what will happen or how quick it will happen.” Since he recovered, Helton said he continues to exercise and in the past year, entered and completed three 5K races. “I am living proof that the money you’ve invested over the years, and continue to invest, does save lives,” he said.
 
Maudie Briggs, honorary chair for 2006, presented the Heart of the Community Award to Fay and the late Dr. Douglas Andrews. Andrews served on the medical staff at MHHS from 1973 to 1997 as an anesthesiologist. He served as chief of staff, vice chief staff, served on the board of directors and numerous hospital committees. “When speaking with people who worked with him at the hospital, it is evident that everyone loved him,” Briggs said. “He was always an advocate for the foundation and for the hospital.”
 
Fay Andrews has had many careers. She was a pharmacist who owned her own pharmacy, a certified master embroiderer and quilter. Dr. Andrews died in 2009, but Briggs said his footprint can be seen today. “He was instrumental in the success of the very first heart gala,” Briggs said. “He not only served on the committee, but he and Fay personally went out and collected silent auction items.”
 
In accepting the honor on behalf of her husband, Mrs. Andrews said, “it’s been a joy to be associated with this event and I hope there’ll be at least 12 more.”
 
Cindy Thompson, director of emergency and critical services and the Heart, Lung and Vascular Center, introduced the team of professionals who worked to save Helton’s life and countless others. “When you enter the hospital with chest pain, it’s a team effort. It begins in the emergency room and follows through several areas,” Thompson said.
 
The head of that team are cardiologists Dr. Sunil Ramaprasad and Pragnesh Patel. Thompson said Ramaprasad was one of the first cardiologists in Morristown and has largely built the department from the ground up. Thompson introduced Patel, who presented the Heart of Healthcare Award. “Every generation has benefitted from advances in medical care,” Patel said. “It is imperative to recognize the physicians who served the community before we had specialists.”
 
Dr. William Alexander joined the staff at MHHS in 1960. His specialty was family practice, but he also worked as a surgeon and as an OB/GYN. He served as chief of staff on three separate occasions and also served as chief of surgery and numerous other committees during his 32-year career in Morristown.
 
“He made visits to patients in four counties and took care of the hospital’s emergency room for a month at a time, while also being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for his patients,” Patel said. There were no specialists in Morristown in those days. “Dr. Alexander and physicians like him have paved the way to our current state of health care in our community,” Patel said.
 
“I hope I did serve people as well as I could,” Alexander said after receiving his honor. He explained that when he joined the staff at MHHS, he was one of only three fulltime staff physicians. There were no residents. “Thank God for the Merck Manual and the nurses,” he said.
 
Alexander said that he and his wife had the first set of twins born at the hospital. During his years of treating patients, where his charge averaged only $5, “it took a long time to make money to feed those twins.” Alexander said he turns 84 in June, and believes he’s the oldest medical doctor in Hamblen County. “I’m old, but still alive,” he said, quoting his 5-year-old granddaughter.
 
The live auction with David Hayes followed the award presentations.
 
The top bid of the night was $1,900 for the Bluegrass Escape package, which included a three-night weekend getaway at the Kentucky home of Dr. Paul and Jeannie Jett. The home is located in the historic Chevy Chase area of Lexington, Ky. The package also included clubhouse passes for six people to a race at the historic Keeneland Race Track, and a guided horse farm tour at Gainsborough Farm, one of the most famous horse farms in Kentucky.
 
The Lost in Love package, which consisted of a framed White Prostyle No. 18 Indianapolis Colts jersey signed by Peyton Manning, a tamper-evident AAA hologram and certificate of authenticity. The winning bid for this collectible was $1,400.
 
Coming in third was the $1,300 bid for the Rocky Mountain High package — a one-week stay in a Colorado condo on the Eagle River in Edwards, Colo.
 
Other winning bids included:
 
 • $900 bid for a mink vest with lamb leather back
 
 • $750 for the Take Me Out to the Ballgame package, which consisted of a private suite for 20 at Smokies Stadium
 
 • $600 bid for a brown lambskin leather jacket trimmed in crystal fox
 
 • $500 bid for a Belle of the Ball green shell pearl necklace and matching bracelet.
 
The evening concluded with music and dancing until midnight.
 
The Morristown-Hamblen Hospital Foundation holds its Annual Heart Gala each February during National Heart Month to help bring awareness to the country’s No. 1 killer for both men and women — heart disease.
 
The MHH Foundation is still accepting donations to benefit the Heart Lung & Vascular Center at Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System. For more information, call 423-492-5600.