Recognizing the Exceptional Impact of the Exceptional Care Society

On a rainy Wednesday evening in October, spirits were high as more than 200 people gathered to celebrate giving to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s 2012 Exceptional Care Society dinner honored the generous support of annual donors and recognized key individuals for their outstanding efforts and contributions to benefit patient care at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Honoring the Heart of Patient Care

Douglas Mann, MD, cardiologist-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, received the President’s Achievement Award for excellence in patient care. Dr. Mann is director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University, and the Lewin Chair and Chief, Cardiovascular Division at Washington University School of Medicine.

Richard Sullivan, one of Dr. Mann’s patients, introduced Dr. Mann and thanked him for helping him regain an active lifestyle after receiving innovative treatment for atrial fibrillation. Dr. Mann was emotional as he thanked Richard for the privilege of caring for him.

“Other awards I have received focus on academics or leadership, but this is the first award I’ve received for doing what I love the most—caring for patients,” Dr. Mann says. “Seeing Mr. Sullivan doing so well inspires me and reminds me that the patient is the most important part of my job.”

Since Dr. Mann arrived at Barnes-Jewish Hospital three years ago, he and his colleagues have been aggressively researching new treatments and medications for heart disease with support from The Foundation. Some of these projects have included breakthrough research in imaging for abnormal heart rhythms, aortic valve disease, the role of genetics in sudden cardiac death, and the creation of a heart tissue repository (biobank). The research is expected to lead to new discoveries and better treatments for patients with heart disease.

“Donor support through The Foundation has made a huge impact,” he says. “This funding allows us to test new and creative ideas, accelerate the pace of research, write grants for additional funding and attract bright young scientists. We’re on the cusp of major discoveries. I’m very excited about clinical trials that we are launching to test a new drug to stabilize aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s main artery, which obstructs blood flow to the rest of the body.”

Mom is the Motivation

This year, Our M.O.M. (Our Mark on Melanoma) Inc. received the Foundation’s newly established Exceptional Donor Award. Eight Schellhardt siblings created Our M.O.M. Inc. in memory of their mother, Patricia Schellhardt Malone, who passed away from melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Our M.O.M. Inc. raises awareness about melanoma prevention and detection through educational programs and also raises charitable donations for the fund the family started at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to support melanoma research. Sisters Elizabeth Shocklee and Maria Schellhardt accepted the Exceptional Donor Award at the dinner on behalf of their entire family.

“We’re simply trying to make a difference, so when you’re recognized with such a great award, you feel like maybe you’re making that difference,” Elizabeth says. “The exceptional donors are really all our supporters, which includes The Foundation, Dr. (Gerald) Linette, the physicians who work with melanoma patients, the researchers and every single person and company that has stepped up and helped us in our efforts.”

The family’s experience watching their mother suffer and ultimately succumb to melanoma drew the family closer and drives them to never give up. “During the height of my mom’s fight, she specifically asked us to do something to help people who suffer from this disease,” Elizabeth says. “My mom would be very proud of our efforts so far, but would also say, ‘You can do better—cure this disease.’ That’s why we started Our M.O.M.”

Elizabeth says the family was fortunate to have the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University so close to home to care for their mother. “After my mom passed, we put Our M.O.M. Inc. into motion and we all agreed to support Dr. Linette’s melanoma research at Siteman. To do this, we contacted The Foundation and were met with overwhelming support of our efforts and ideas.”

As the organization continues its successful fundraising, the family is able to increase funding for research and education. “We hope to take our loss and turn it into a win for others facing melanoma,” Elizabeth says.

The research support is paying off. Dr. Linette recently made progress in cancer genomics by sequencing the genomes of melanoma tumors. Melanoma has the most mutations of any solid tumor, which allows it to spread quickly and makes it difficult to treat. “We’re excited to watch Dr. Linette’s progress and are hopeful that in five to 10 years, an advanced stage melanoma diagnosis won’t be as fatal,” Elizabeth says.

Awarding Excellence in Care for the Aging

At the dinner, James Williams, MPA, received the 2012 Dorismae and Harvey Friedman Research on Aging Award for his work supporting “at-risk” populations in the memory and aging areas. Tanya M. Wildes, MD, received the 2012 Alene and Meyer Kopolow Award for Geriatrics, Psychiatry and Neurology. The award recognizes her work incorporating geriatric assessment into the evaluation of older cancer patients to help physicians make better treatment decisions.

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