Pink Power benefits new neonatal unit at Vancouver hospital
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Thursday night was ladies’ night in Vegas — er, that is, Vancouver.
Elvis was wiggling his hips in the casino room. Frankie was flying to the moon in the banquet room. And dozens of dapper Pink Tie Guys swarmed the Hilton Vancouver Washington in search of lovely ladies needing drinks and snacks. The lovely ladies themselves — some showing off pink wigs, pink outfits and pink feather boas — swarmed sales kiosks offering jewelry and apparel, portrait photography and perfume.
Pink Power “is a women’s event — a whole evening of glitz,” said Jeanne Rahn, executive director of the Southwest Washington Medical Center Foundation. That foundation gave rise to Pink Power as subgroup focusing on women and children’s needs a few years ago; previous Pink Power fundraisers amassed more than $4 million to see the Kearney Breast Care Center get built at the hospital.
Now, the group is aiming for a final $600,000 to complete an 8 bed expansion of the $3.6 million neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital’s birth center — where infants born as early as 28 weeks can be cared for.
“We wanted to be able to take care of the very smallest, most premature babies without having to send them to Portland,” Rahn said. “Today is all about taking care of our families here in our own community.”
“I’ve been waiting for this for 30 years,” said neonatal nurse practitioner Sherrill Roskam. That’s how long she’s been working at Southwest Washington after coming from a larger hospital where the technology and facilities for premature babies were superior, she said. “It’s been a small unit in Vancouver.”
“The services we offer have increased a great deal,” said the pink-tied Robert Djergaian — who, when not waiting on ladies, works as the hospital’s medical director of rehabilitation services. “This great event shows the community’s support for it.”
That means men too, of course. Most of the guys on hand Thursday wore those pink ties — which they’d donated $1,000 for the privilege of donning.
Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches Restaurant, led a prolonged round of live fundraising that seemed headed into the upper hundreds of thousands when press time rolled around.
Risk of transport
David and Patricia Nierenberg, leading Vancouver philanthropists already noted for millions of dollars in donations to the hospital, have also given $3 million to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit — called the Holtzman Twins Special Care Nursery.
Nierenberg’s mother and grandmother, Lynne and Sue Holtzman, were both premature babies, born two months early at home in rural New Jersey. This was 1928, and the twins’ odds of survival were considered long.
“My mother was the giant of the two, at 2.5 pounds,” Nierenberg said. His grandmother, the pipsqueak, weighed in at 2.25 pounds.
It was November, the weather was harsh, and the attending doctor didn’t want to risk a trip to the hospital. Instead, he advised the parents on feeding the little ones with eyedroppers — and keeping the indoor heat cranked up to incubator temperature all the time.
The babies made it — and grew up to become the first people in their family to attend college, Nierenberg said. His own mother, Lynne, became a nurse.
“To honor and help the most vulnerable babies gives our family a lot of pleasure,” Nierenberg said.
And, he added, the neonatal unit is like a nice hotel — with private rooms and plenty of bed space for relatives whose inclination is to move right in with their very young patients.
“These babies won’t face the risk of transport either,” he said. “And the parents won’t have to have the inconvenience of traveling out of town.”
“This is about the human side of medicine,” Mattias said.
Scott Hewitt: 360-735-4525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.