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VOL. 127 | NO. 65 | Tuesday, April 03, 2012

‘Soul-ed’ Out

Gala raises money, awareness for MED Foundation

By LEANNE RICKETSON

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On Saturday, March 31, as more than 800 guests entered The Peabody hotel’s Grand Ballroom for The MED fundraiser “A Soul Celebration,” the lyrics of “Imagine” hummed through the air. Attendees were soon treated to a video outlining the vision for “Tomorrow’s MED” and setting the theme for the evening.

The Four Tops entertained Saturday’s gathering at The Peabody hotel’s Grand Ballroom for The MED fundraiser “A Soul Celebration.”

(Photo: Gary Culley)

Dr. Reginald Coopwood, CEO of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, celebrated the past two years of success, quickly turning his focus toward the future. Coopwood asked audience members to imagine tomorrow’s MED, with their families having local access to a nationally recognized hospital of choice.

MED Foundation board members and gala co-chairs Susan Arney and Leigh Shockey praised corporate response to the event, citing it as “overwhelming.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner. The MED gala has quickly become known for the entertainment portion of the evening, and this year did not disappoint.

Guests were serenaded by The Four Tops; The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards; Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.; and Thelma Houston.

The Four Tops had only been back in the United States for a day after a monthlong European tour when they took the stage.

“Ordinarily, we’d be too tired to do this,” said Abdul “Duke” Fakir, who was part of the original four. He said the band wanted to be a part of “A Soul Celebration” because “it’s people that make us who we are. We’re just the egg in the frying pan; they’re the cook.”

“This is how much we love The MED – we didn’t even see the Peabody’s ducks!” said fellow band member Lawrence Payton Jr.

Dennis Edwards of The Temptations Review, appearing for a second time at the gala, is a stalwart MED supporter.

“This is the type of thing – these life and death cases – that you never think about until it happens to someone close to you,” Edwards said.

Event organizers Susan Arney, from left, Dr. Reginald Coopwood, Tammie Ritchey and Leigh Shockey gather at Saturday’s The MED Foundation Gala.

(Photo: Gary Culley)

Thelma Houston, a native Mississippian, was delighted to learn that The MED serves portions of Mississippi.

“I’m doubly pleased to be doing it,” Houston said.

The money raised Saturday night will benefit The MED Foundation’s twofold mission – raising funds and increasing public awareness for The MED.

The MED has long been known for its Centers of Excellence, especially the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center, Firefighters Regional Burn Center and Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center.

“We are on our way to becoming the premier health care system in the region,” said Tammie Ritchey, executive director of The MED Foundation and MED vice president of development.

Ritchey cited one such transformative change in its recent dedication of an entire unit of the hospital for orthopedic surgeons to perform onsite elective procedures.

While The MED is known for its medical advancements, its facilities don’t stack up. With most of its buildings dating back 50 years, well beyond their useful life and spread out over an unnecessarily large footprint, maintenance is costly and operations are less than efficient.

In the event of a trauma, during which every minute counts, even the slightest inefficiency can mean the difference between life and death.

The existing trauma center was built to serve 2,000 severely ill patients a year, and last year The MED cared for more than 4,000, with over 50,000 emergency patients. The facility is busting at the seams.

Attendees were asked to imagine tomorrow’s MED: world-class facilities combined with its nationally recognized medical team, making The MED a hospital of choice. Artist renderings were shared, showing a more vibrant, appealing campus with inviting entryways and plenty of green space, welcoming visitors and offering respite to weary families coping with the stress of critical illnesses.

A new inpatient critical care tower will tout enhanced trauma and surgical capabilities as well as state-of-the art operating rooms. The tower will feature a second, much-needed heli-pad, allowing for quicker response in a mass casualty or disaster.

A new, modern facility will serve women and babies under one roof. Its design will offer families greater access to premature babies, creating a more family-centric experience at the beginning of every newborn’s life.

The presenting sponsor for this year’s event was Drexel Chemical. The Tri-State Defender and WREG were media sponsors. The MED Foundation is already taking reservations for next year’s event.

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