Kool & the Gang, Eagle Awards highlight Washington Regional Gala

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 183 views 

“Celebrate good times, come on! There’s a party goin’ on right here, a celebration to last throughout the years.”

The celebration was the 20th Annual Washington Regional Gala, where Northwest Arkansas residents celebrated good health and honored Bill Rogers in his retirement at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville Tuesday night.

The evening began with a lengthy reception, giving guests plenty of time to chat and take advantage of finger foods and cocktails before attending a presentation of the Eagle Awards and topping it off with a concert by Kool and the Gang.

Each year, the Washington Regional Gala helps raise funds for one much-needed project at the hospital. In the past 20 years, the galas have raised a collective $1.2 million, which provided for the neo-natal unit, Willard Walker Hospice Home, Faith in Action and the Emergency Department.

This year, the focus was to replace mattresses in the critical care unit.

“We’ve used the same beds for at least 12 years at Washington Regional,” said Registered Nurse Jennifer Bonner in a video presentation at the gala.

In terms of medical purposes, 12 years is a long time to hang on to a mattress. Too long, actually.

If the gala succeeds in its fundraising goal, Washington Regional’s beds will be replaced with TotalCare Sp02RT2 therapy beds, which can lower all the way to the floor-enabling patients to stand up on the footboard and walk directly onto the floor- and which reduce pressure on patients who stay in bed for days or weeks at a time by airing up and deflating throughout the day.

“It makes a huge difference in how quickly they recover,” Bonner said. “For someone with pain issues, pulling up to the side of the bed is a big deal.”

For Bonner, the most important part is that it makes the patients more comfortable. The beds raise, lower and roll the patient based on the number of degrees it’s programmed for, keeping them from laying on an incision or on IVs.

The Cancer Challenge organization, Dr. David Ratcliff and the late George Robert Cole, M.D. were announced as the 2013 Eagle Award Winners. Honorees are chosen based on their extraordinary service to Washington Regional Hospital’s patients.

The Cancer Challenge has raised $9.5 million toward cancer prevention and treatment in the Northwest Arkansas region in the past 20 years.

“The organization is made up of volunteers who decided to do something about cancer,” said Dick Trammel, a member of the Board of Directors. (Through the Cancer Challenge), “I had the opportunity to cure cancer in Northwest Arkansas.”

Trammel felt it was such a significant opportunity because so many lives are affected by cancer: not just those that have the disease, but the people that love and care for them. Over the many years of non-profit service, they have helped 280,000 people.

“We partner together to make cancer care better,” said Gay Prescott, vice president of development for Hope Cancer Resources. Among other things, The Cancer Challenge provides transportation, counseling and patient navigation.

Dr. George Robert Cole was honored posthumously with the Eagle Award. Jeanne Cole accepted it in his place.

Cole’s father was athletic director at the University of Arkansas when he was in high school. In fact, he’d planned on being a Razorback until a major injury that sent him into surgery and changed his mind in the process. From that moment, he wanted to be a doctor.

“He had all the time in the world for you,” said Jane Gearhart, wife of University of Arkansas Chancellor Dave Gearhart and a former patient of Cole’s. “He made you feel very at ease, like he was your best friend. I don’t know how you measure goodness in a person, but I think he’d be the person you’d measure against.”

Dr. David Ratcliff was honored with the Eagle Award for his guidance, which affects more than 15,000 patients annually, the reduction in number of cardiac arrests outside the critical care unit and for his integral role in creating Arkansas’ only community hospital intensivist program.

“It’s an honor to share (the Eagle Award) with Dr. George Robert Cole,” Ratcliff said. “Each day I consider myself the luckiest man on earth to work at Washington Regional.”

This is the 10th consecutive year for Washington Regional Medical Center to be recognized as one of the nation’s top hospitals by the National Research Corporation.