PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s Red, Set, Go! Heart Luncheon raised a record $77,000, an increase of 26 percent over the 2017 fundraiser, according to the foundation director.
On Friday, 320 people attended the 11th annual luncheon, an increase of 21 percent over 2017’s record attendance, said Bruce Skinner, executive director of the OMC Foundation. Among them was a table of people from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the presenting sponsor, and U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer.
Proceeds from the luncheon — which combines fundraising with education for women about how heart disease can affect them — will go toward the purchase of a nuclear imaging camera for cardiac stress testing.
“Once again, we were able to raise money for something that will save lives,” said event chair Karen Rogers.
Ann Kennedy told of surviving heart disease.
“I am a very grateful survivor,” said the mother of five, one of whom is Dr. Scott Kennedy, the chief medical officer at OMC.
Her first valve replacement 20 years ago had her skiing again, Ann Kennedy said, but last year, when she was 83, “things were beginning to go south.”
After treatment, “I am so grateful to be here,” she said.
She told the audience that when Skinner asked her to speak at the luncheon, her first thought was of words beginning with “F.”
That got a laugh, but her meaning was a deeper message.
“The first was faith… and then family and friends” as well as “fantastic doctors and staff” and fun — “look for fun. That helps you heal” — and finally funding “for the cardiac center of our hospital.”
“Who knows?” she said. “You might be next.”
Cardiologist Dr. Kara Urnes said that of the people attending the luncheon, half would be affected by cardiovascular disease — such as heart attack or stroke — and “one-third will die from it.”
Heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined, said Dr. Debleena Dutt of Swedish Medical Center.
Much of it is preventable, she added. One aspect of prevention was illustrated by the heart-healthy meal provided by Kathryn Kitts, who runs the Sweet Beginning Cafe in OMC’s Medical Services Building in Sequim.
Dutt warned that woman suffering heart attacks often present with what are considered to be atypical symptoms and can be misdiagnosed as suffering from stress, a panic attack or even menopause.
Congestive heart failure is the primary reason for admittance to a hospital after the age of 65, she said.
The new camera that proceeds will help to fund will reduce the amount of time that a patient has to be in an uncomfortable position from 30 minutes to 6-10 minutes, reduce the amount of radiation exposure and provide improved imaging with enhanced technology, Skinner said.
The annual lunch promotes that the key to eradicating heart disease is education.
“The purpose of our event is to inspire women to learn how to improve their heart health,” Rogers said.
Donations continue to come in for the purchase of the camera, Skinner said.
“People interested in contributing can contact our office at 360-417-7144.”