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Virtual Heart Ball set for February 12

by PATTY HUTCHENS Contributing Writer
| January 25, 2022 1:00 AM

Trauma. It is safe to say that most of us have known someone who has experienced trauma and had to be transported to the nearest hospital, whether by ambulance or a loved one. Depending upon the nature of the emergency, an immediate diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.

We are fortunate in our rural community to have Bonner General Health, a level II Stroke, Level III STEMI, and Level IV Trauma Center where time-sensitive emergency patients can be seen and, if necessary, transferred to other facilities that are equipped for life-saving intervention. The critical tool for making a diagnosis in strokes and trauma is a CT scanner and x-ray machine.

“Expediting a diagnosis is essential in determining where to send patients within the windows where lifesaving intervention can produce positive outcomes,” said Erin Binnall, director of Marketing & Community Development and public information officer for Bonner General Health and Foundation.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Bonner General Health to provide timely care in trauma situations; and it's not just due to overcrowding with COVID. Over the last seven years, the volume of CT scans has increased by 73 percent and the volume of x-rays has increased 50 percent. 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. Not only that, but Bonner County has seen a significant rise in its population, many of whom are of retirement age.

It is because of the need for additional imaging dedicated to trauma situations that the Bonner General Health Foundation decided to raise funds through its 2022 Annual Heart Ball to purchase an additional CT scanner and establish a third x-ray room.

“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,” said Binnall.

Out of concern for the safety of our community, The Annual Heart Ball will once again be held virtually. It is free to everyone, and if it is anything like last year, it promises to be a fun and lively time.

But you don’t have to wait until the February 12 event to begin bidding on some of the desserts and live auction items. On February 1, the dessert auction will go live with the bidding closing the evening of February 11. The board and other volunteers will deliver desserts on the morning of February 12 for the winning bidders to enjoy during the Heart Ball.

“In addition to over 20 amazing desserts, we will have five live auction items,” said Molly Behrens, Community Development Coordinator for Bonner General Health Foundation.

Included in those five packages are a trip to Nashville which will include tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, airfare and a whiskey tour; glamping at Moab National Park; a gourmet dinner for 14, including wine, provided by Pack River Store; a weekend stay at Schweitzer complete with lift tickets and a gift basket; and a stay at Casa Dorado Spa and Golf at the Hilton in Los Cabos which includes 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 adventure. And it appears that the Heart Ball is already off to a great start even before the bidding begins.

“We are thrilled with the response to our request for sponsorships so far this year,” said Georgia Simmons, Heart Ball Chairperson and Bonner General Health Foundation Board Trustee, adding that she is optimistic for another extremely successful year. “It is critical for a healthy community to have exceptional health care, and this new equipment will surely help to improve upon what is already a wonderful facility.”

Many do not realize that Bonner General Health is a nonprofit health care facility. “It is the one nonprofit in our community which touches nearly every person at one time or another during their lives,” said Bonner General Health Foundation President, Justin Dick. Like Justin, many of those who serve on the all-volunteer board have had personal experiences at Bonner General Health that have motivated them to give back to their Hometown Hospital.

Stephanie Aitken joined the Bonner General Health Foundation Board in 2019, the same year she attended her first Heart Ball fundraiser. Stephanie shares that the event opened her eyes to just how much Bonner General Health does. “I was so inspired by all the people involved and felt the positive message needed to be spread throughout the community,” said Stephanie who brings experience with nonprofit boards and a finance background to the Board.

Lisa Moline is a local attorney who also joined the Bonner General Health Foundation Board in 2019. She was inspired to serve by her grandmother who worked as a nurse at Bonner General for 25 years.

“I’m very grateful to our Board and this community for the support they have shown Bonner General Health over the years,” said Bonner General Health CEO, Sheryl Rickard. “It truly is rewarding to be able to offer exceptional care at our Hometown Hospital.”

To enjoy this free virtual event, RSVP at bonnergeneral.org/heart-ball and instructions will be emailed to you on how to sign up and do your online bidding.