story and photos by April Robertson
ROGERS – The Northwest Arkansas community got into the giving spirit a little early in the Christmas season by donating to the rural outreach services of the Mercy Health Foundation at its 19th Annual Charity Ball in the John Q. Hammons Convention Center.
Guests were treated to a reception, followed by a social hour and cocktails, and a four-course meal before being asked to participate in a live auction to benefit the organization. Items for bid boasted of weekend getaways, skybox seating to a St. Louis Cardinals game, shopping sprees at Bloomingdale’s, yacht racing and more.
Festivities continued with an hour-long concert by award-winning country music artist Easton Corbin and an after party dubbed “After Glow,” complete with a Hershey Bliss Bar and treats from a Teri-Rocki Road Gourmet Food Truck.
Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Rogers; and Rogers Mayor Greg Hines were a few notable guests of the evening.
“Our focus is improving your health. … It’s our passion. We turn away no one,” said Scott Street, president and CEO of Mercy Health System and related services in Northwest Arkansas. “Our growth and our innovation depends on you.”
A major part of the foundation’s goal is to continue providing mobile care to its patients, an outreach service that is the only option some patients have remaining.
“It’s a lot easier to get a patient to (go to an appointment) if the doctor comes to them,” said Dr. Larry Weathers, who practices cardiology at Mercy Health. “We focus (these services) on the most depressed, least mobile patients.
“When I see that appreciative look,” I know it’s worth it, he said.
Those served by rural outreach normally have diseases that are easily manageable if detected early. In a video promoting the foundation and Mercy Health services, one patient explained the convenience and comfort of mobile outreach.
“It’s just you and the radiology lab person,” she said. “Mercy Health has been with me every step of the way.”
A pillar of the Mercy Health System is to meet the needs of all people and Saturday’s event showed that they are vested in the Northwest Arkansas community, hoping to ensure they can serve as many people as need their services within a 75-100 mile radius.
Mercy Health provides a Ronald McDonald house option for families.
“It’s a way to stay close to their sick children,” said Allison Apple, director of women/children’s services at Mercy Health.
“As a nurse, I want parents to be able to have a place to rest between feedings and to keep close to the baby,” said Julie Blaney. “When the parents are less stressed, the babies-in turn are less stressed.”
The nearby housing saves cab fare or a long, weary drive back to their homes and is to ensure a better peace of mind.
This year, the charity ball raised funds for a Mercy Outreach Clinic, which is coming in 2013. The cost of the new facilities will total $600,000 and Saturday’s event went a long way to reach that goal. Between generous donations from a number of donors, including PepsiCo, the Lee & Linda Scott Family, Vista Productions, a pledge of $75,000 from General Mills and a $50,000 grant from the Walmart and Sam’s Club Foundation, the remaining goal for the evening was $75,000.
“I think we’ve surpassed (that goal),” said Storme Warren, producer and host of Great American Country entertainment news show and the emcee for the evening.