PARKERSBURG - With a number of events converging at the same time, officials with the Camden Clark Medical Center have decided not to continue the St. Joseph's Heart Ball.
The last Heart Ball was held in February 2011 before the merger between Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital under the West Virginia United Health System became official. Hospital officials recently announced the planned closure of the St. Joseph's Campus in the next few years.
The Camden Clark Foundation's Charity Gala is held in December and many felt it was too soon after the December gala to hold another hospital fundraiser, Camden Clark officials have said.
Last year, the Heart Ball was replaced by the King and Queen of Hearts Reception, which was an event to welcome new physicians and residency program doctors to the Camden Clark Medical Center.
The decision to bring back the ball remains with the hospital administration, said Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs for the Camden Clark Medical Center.
"Currently there is no plan that I know of to continue the Heart Ball," he said.
Brunicardi said the physician reception for new doctors will probably be held later in the year when they have a sufficient number of new doctors to recognize.
During its 14 years, the St. Joseph's Hospital Heart Ball raised more than $200,000 for heart health programs and equipment and the Francis DeSales Health Foundation.
The ball funded the purchase of AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) for the cities of Parkersburg and Belpre, St. Joseph's Ambulance Service, the Parkersburg YMCA and Parkersburg South, Parkersburg, Parkersburg Catholic, Williamstown and Belpre high schools.
The Ball also helped fund the Francis DeSales Health Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization which supported health activities and cardiac wellness in the community.
Brunicardi said the Foundation Gala is now the hospital's major fundraising event. It was held Dec. 1, 2012 at the Parkersburg Country Club
"It occurs in December and makes it unnecessary to hold an additional event only two months later in February," he said. "The good news is that the Gala raises funds for all of our service lines, including the cardiac program which was the sole recipient of the Heart Ball funds in the past."
The 2011 Gala helped to raise money to purchase a $200,000 3-D ultrasound unit to perform transesophageal echocardiogram procedures on the heart at the St. Joseph's Campus.
This was the third year for the Gala, said Kim Couch, executive director for the Camden Clark Foundation.
"Our theme was 'Mistletoe and MagnoliasA Southern Inspired Christmas,"' she said. "We raised $25,000 which is designated for the Diabetes Wellness and Education Fund."
About 180-230 people attend each year. They sold around 200 tickets for the last Gala.
The black-tie optional event has featured live music, local entertainment from the PHS Red Wings, PSHS Southern Belles, Schrader Youth Ballet Company, and PACE as well as heavy appetizers and a "signature cocktail" in keeping with the theme. Past themes have included Christmas in the Big Apple and Christmas in the City of Light Paris, Couch said.
"We also have a fabulous silent auction with everything from jewelry, to trips to Cabo and Las Vegas, to original artwork for sale," she said. "This year we also offered horse and carriage rides to the guests."
The next gala is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2013, at the Parkersburg Country Club.