Mother and daughter Shelly Tweter and Peach Thompson look over silent auction items at the Red, Set, Go! event Friday at Field Arts & Events Hall in Port Angeles. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Luncheon raises funds for Olympic Medical Center Heart Center

PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s 16th Red, Set, Go! luncheon presented by Virginia Mason Franciscan Health raised a record net $133,000, according to Bruce Skinner, executive director of Olympic Medical Center Foundation.

More than 400 people attended Friday’s event at Field Arts & Events Hall in Port Angeles, which had attendees sit in two areas, upstairs and downstairs, with those upstairs moving down for the second half of the program.

The amount raised exceeded last year’s total by $12,000, Skinner said.

Proceeds from the annual gala will fund the foundation’s Health Care Scholarship Fund and purchase an overhead lift system for the cardiac sonography suite.

The scholarship program benefits nursing and medical assisting students at Peninsula College by assisting with tuition and other expenses that can present obstacles to schooling such as rent or child care.

Nursing scholarships through the program ranged from $12,000 to $22,000 per student this year, according to Suzy Ames, Peninsula College’s president.

“Employee recruitment is one of the most significant challenges facing the healthcare industry and OMC today,” said OMC Red, Set, Go Chair Karen Rogers.

“The foundation initiated this program along with OMC to increase the potential employee pool that OMC can draw from. Once again, people in the community were extremely generous,” she continued.

The overhead lift system will aid cardiac sonographers, echocardiogram technicians, to move disabled patients without risking injuries to patients as well as to staff members.

Occupational injuries that prevent further employment represent a major threat to the already tenuous staffing situation at the OMC Heart Center, officials said.

Speakers at the luncheon included Dr. Kara Urnes, the heart center’s medical director, and Dr. Sarah Speck, the medical director for cardiac rehabilitation and wellness programs at the Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute.

Speck’s presentation, “Heart Disease in Women,” highlighted the differences in the way heart disease affects women, including risk factors, common symptoms and delays in treatment.

Urnes reiterated the challenges in recruiting and retaining technical staff at the heart center specifically and at Olympic Medical Center in general.

She pointed out the value of the workforce development programs the hospital’s foundation and Peninsula College are developing to help train community members to provide the technical services needed to provide high quality health care.

Michelle Olsen, assistant superintendent at the Port Angeles School District, shared her story about the value the Heart Center brings to the community.

Olsen underwent an echocardiogram at OMC that identified a heart valve abnormality called mitral valve regurgitation in 2019.

She had to go to Seattle in December 2022 for surgery to repair the valve, but was able to return home and get her post-operative rehabilitation at OMC, allowing her to return to work on Feb. 7, 2023.

The luncheon included a live auction that raised $38,000 for its “Support a Need” category and another $14,050 from the sale of seven lots, including an autographed guitar from Brad Paisley and an evening’s entertainment from Todd Ortloff and Amanda Bacon.

Red, Set, Go is also an educational event, as the lunch also promotes that the key to eradicating heart disease is education.

“The purpose of our event is to inspire women to become more educated on how to improve their heart health,” Urnes said.

“We are still receiving donations,” Skinner said. “People interested in contributing can contact our office at 360-417-7144 or go online at www.omhf.org.”

The foundation also will host a companion event, the Fifth Great Olympic Peninsula St. Patrick’s Day Run-Walk, at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16, at City Pier, 315 N. Lincoln St.

Entry to the 1 mile, 5K and 10K race is $35 per person until Wednesday, and $45 per person afterward.

Participants can register at www.omhf.org.

________

John Hauck reports for the Peninsula Daily News.

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