Elvis tribute artist rocks Camden Clark Medical Center benefit

Vegas-themed gala raises funds for Neonatal Therapeutic Unit

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton As he arrived at the Parkersburg Country Club, Elvis was greeted by Jon Leavitt, president of the Camden Clark Foundation, left, and Kim Couch, right, executive director of the of the Camden Clark Foundation

VIENNA — Some of the glitz and glamour associated with Las Vegas came to the Mid-Ohio Valley during a charity gala to benefit the Neonatal Therapeutic Unit at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center to help care for the smallest victims of the opioid crisis.

Jon Leavitt, president of the Camden Clark Foundation, said this year’s event is for the creation of the Neonatal Therapeutic Unit to treat babies who were exposed to opioids and other drugs before birth.

“What is astounding to me is the board heard one in four children born at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center has that problem,” he said. “So having the creation of a room that is a quiet sanctuary to where their senses are not overloaded, a quiet environment.

Leavitt said the new unit pairs up with the cuddlers program, a volunteer program where volunteers are trained to care for addicted babies post-delivery.

“They come here to help hold those babies as they make the transition and get the drugs out of their system,” he said. “We have a waiting list of people who want to do this.”

Photo by Jeffrey Saulton Local Elvis tribute artist Jim Forshey wowed the crowd at the event to benefit the Neonatal Therapeutic Unit at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center.

Leavitt said the gala had one of the largest turnouts with a goal to raise $20,000 for the new unit.

Kim Couch, executive director of the Camden Clark Foundation, said the new unit will be open very soon.

“Now that we have all the plans and bids are in,”‘ she said. “Because it is not moving walls or any heavy construction, we actually expect to be up and running in the next six weeks.”

Couch said money raised Saturday will be used for furnishing the unit and some other additions to the area.

“It is a very tranquil space with low lighting and low sound,” she said. “If you’ve ever been in the Camden Clark Nursery it’s a very busy place and the babies generally stay for about 48 hours. These babies are special and need a place.”

Christine Daniels, vice president of patient care services and Chief Nursing Officer, said the unit is designed to give the children dealing with opioids a place to heal from drugs or alcohol in their systems.

Daniels said the unit in Parkersburg is among the first in the state, behind units at Cabell Huntington Hospital and West Virginia University.

“Here at Camden Clark we are going to develop and create a special area for soothing,” she said. “Right now the cuddlers are in the nursery, where we have patients and little ones are coming and going and the whole point is to create a soothing environment.”

For Saturday’s gala, Couch said a portion of the Parkersburg Country Club was transformed into a mini-casino with a number of Vegas-style table games set with local celebrity dealers.

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