An early success for KGH

It's never too early -- in the year or in the day -- to roust out supporters of Kennewick General Hospital for a little help.

This year's 7:30 a.m. kick-off breakfast at the Kennewick Red Lion netted over $27,000 from 300 or so business and community leaders. That's a few hundred dollars more than last year's event.

The event honored foundation efforts in support of KGH. The foundation's many Hometown Heroes were also honored for their generosity in donating $1,000 or more apiece.

Supporters celebrated a successful 2009 in which they raised a total of $228,000 -- including a $34,000 donation made to the KGH Joint Replacement Center that opened in January.

The 2010 Caring Heart volunteer award went to George Jones, a supporter of the hospital since its planning stages; the Jim Mokler Outstanding Service Award was presented to the Paws For Patients program under which volunteer dogs and their handlers pay in-room visits to patients ; Meadow Hills Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Jeanine Swailes were acknowledged for their pro bono services for the Paws For Patients program.

Cathy Merrill Holle described her experience when her husband Doug was in the Intensive Care Unit last year, suffering from a sudden illness that proved fatal. She singled out the nursing care in the unit as exceptional and made a special presentation to nurse Arline Bartel for her compassionate role in caring for the patient and his family.

Funds generated at the breakfast will go to the KGH Foundation Scholarship program and toward the purchase of a Bravo pH Monitoring System for the KGH Endoscopy Center. The device will make testing for heartburn and other esophageal diseases more effective and patient friendly.

The Foundation will award three $2,000 scholarships to students in health care.

Those who tumbled out of bed a little earlier than usual for the event were more than compensated by all the good their donations will do.