Proceeds will benefit BGH trauma radiology
By Patty Hutchens, Bonner General Health Foundation
It is a nonprofit organization that affects nearly everyone in our community at one time or another. A place where we witness new life brought into the world, and a place where we say goodbye to loved ones as they end their life journey. We take our children, parents, friends and neighbors there in times of crisis and hold their hands as they face uncertain times. Bonner General Health is our community’s “Hometown Hospital” and has been with many of us through our life’s experiences, offering compassion and excellent care.
Looking back to where they were a decade ago, Bonner General Health has grown exponentially in both people served and the types of services provided. Where people once had to travel to Coeur d’Alene or Spokane for many services, they can now receive services right here in Sandpoint. For example, since Dr. George’s retirement several years ago, community members in need of eye care had to make the trip to Coeur d’Alene to see an ophthalmologist. Bonner General Health saw the need to bring this service back into our community. With the help of the Heart Ball funds, Bonner General Health opened Bonner General Ophthalmology Clinic, led by board-certified Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Torres, in February 2020. Bonner General Health and the Foundation are always looking for ways to keep quality health care close to home.
“The community has been extremely supportive of our mission, and we are grateful for the ongoing support we receive from businesses and individuals,” said Erin Binnall, Bonner General Health’s Director of Marketing and Community Development for both Bonner General Health and Bonner General Health Foundation.
The Bonner General Health Foundation has played an integral part in helping the hospital expand its services. Since it was revived in 2007, the Foundation has raised more than $1 million, a majority of which was in the past few years.
For many years the Foundation’s signature fundraising event has been the annual Heart Ball, which brings people together for an elegant night of food, drinks, dancing and fundraising. In 2021, the Heart Ball was held virtually due to COVID, but it proved to be a record year for the Foundation.
"We did not know what to expect, as we had never done it this way before," said Heart Ball Chair Georgia Simmons, a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees. "We were thrilled with the response and support from the community at a time when our Hometown Hospital needed it most.”
The event, along with a Donor Wall where people or businesses who donated a minimum of $5,000 received a special place of honor in Bonner General Health’s emergency room, helped raise over $200,000, which was used to remodel and upgrade the equipment in the Emergency Department.
“It was remarkable to see how much we were able to raise in uncertain times,” said Foundation President Justin Dick.
With the growth in our community and the increasing demand for services, Bonner General Health evaluated what the biggest needs are to best serve our community in the immediate future. It was based on that information that the Foundation Board decided what the Heart Ball funds will be used for in 2022. It was concluded that the best use of the money raised will be to install a second CT scanner and a third X-ray room specifically designed to image trauma patients, ultimately saving many lives.
“Bonner General Health is a level IV Stroke, STEMI, and Trauma Center. Time-sensitive emergency patients are seen at our ER and transferred to more extensive facilities equipped for life-saving intervention. The critical tool in diagnosing strokes and trauma in the acute setting is our CT scanner and X-ray machine,” explained Binnall.
Over the last seven years, the volume of CT scans has increased by 73 percent, and the X-ray volume has increased by 50 percent, making it difficult to always provide immediate imaging in trauma situations.
According to Daniel Holland, Director of Diagnostic Imaging at Bonner General Health, the imaging for time-sensitive emergencies, which include stroke, heart attack and trauma, has grown by 30 percent since 2018.
“Expediting a diagnosis is essential in determining where to send patients within the windows where lifesaving intervention can produce positive outcomes,” said Binnall, addressing the increased difficulty in providing timely care.
Currently, the existing CT scanner and two X-ray machines serve ER patients, in-patients and outpatients in the region. Because Bonner General Health serves a geographic region of over 3,000 square miles of rural mountainous terrain with a population of 60,000 people, which can exceed 200,000 in peak tourist season, access to quality health care is essential to saving lives.
“With ever-tightening operating margins, the need to supplement capital expenditures became critical and remains critical,” said Dick. “The BGH Foundation is dedicated and passionate about this community's health care by providing support financially and raising community awareness.”
The Heart Ball
The 2022 Heart Ball will be held on February 12. While every effort was made to hold the event in person, the decision was made to do so virtually again this year due to the uncertainty of COVID.
“We encourage everyone to gather with those that they feel comfortable and join us for what promises to be a lively and fun time on February 12,” said Simmons.
There will be approximately 25 desserts to be auctioned online for two weeks prior to the event, with the desserts delivered to the winning bidders on February 12 to be enjoyed during the event.
“We have had an amazing response from business owners and private bakers to our request for desserts this year,” said Foundation Board Member Brittany Jacobson. Some of those desserts include a Flourless Chocolate Cake drizzled with salted caramel from Pend d’Oreille Winery, as well as Dish at Dover Bay’s amazing Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake paired with caramel and pretzels.
This year’s live auction items are sure to have something for everyone.
“We have a lot of diversity with this year’s auction packages and are grateful for the sponsorships we have received so far for these packages,” said Foundation Board Member Lisa Moline.
Among the packages is a trip to Nashville that will include tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, airfare and a whiskey tour. If you are looking for a sunny and adventurous getaway, a stay at Casa Dorado Spa and Golf at the Hilton in Los Cabos is for you! Included in this package are a cooking class for two at Flora Farms, a gift certificate to enjoy craft cocktails at Acre, and a $1,500 gift certificate to Cabo Adventures, where you can choose your own adventure. For those who wish to explore an amazing national park complete with glamping, a trip to Moab National Park is also something up for auction.
For those wanting to stay local, the auction provides a weekend stay at Schweitzer that includes lift tickets and a gift basket.
Lastly, Pack River Store is donating a gourmet dinner for 14 people, complete with wine. It’s a great opportunity to gather friends and enjoy the amazing food that local chef Alex Jacobson has to offer.
If you are wondering how you can enjoy this free virtual event, you can sign up at BonnerGeneral.org/heart-ball, and instructions will be emailed to you on how to sign up and do your online bidding.
“We are still looking for sponsors and want to remind people that if they donate a minimum of $5,000, their name or business name will be memorialized on our Donor Wall, which we created last year,” said Molly Behrens, Community Development Coordinator for Bonner General Health.
“With funds going toward a second CT scanner and a third X-ray room designed to image trauma patients, the result will be patients can receive immediate care in their home community, reducing travel time and expense, and ultimately saving lives,” added Binnall.