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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Nov 15, 2018
Sixty years ago, a group of altruistic, socially responsible, and fun-loving friends started a tradition that I’m sure no one dreamed would become Collier County’s longest continuously running annual ball.

Over 380 patrons gathered together this past Saturday night to celebrate the 60th annual NCH Hospital Ball, aimed at equipping NCH’s fifth cardiac catheterization lab with cutting-edge technology to advance the capabilities of our Structural Heart team.  Already recognized nationally for our Code Save-A-Heart Program, the NCH Heart Institute has earned the highest ranking from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons since 2010 and is home to the first and only open heart surgery program in Collier County. 


Ball Chairs Diane and Dan McCaw shared, “The 60th Hospital Ball is truly a milestone and will make a lasting impact on the already outstanding cardiac care that NCH Healthcare System delivers to Southwest Florida residents.”  We cannot be more appreciative of the McCaws’ robust backing.  Presenting sponsor Team Health, Chairman’s Circle supporters Robert, Mariann and Megan MacDonald, along with Dr. Jane Cox and dozens of others participated with vibrant enthusiasm and generous support. 


As has been our custom for over a decade, at this event we award the physician of the year sponsored by Herb and Mary Ehlers.  Selection is determined by peers based on the highest standards of excellence in clinical care, relationships with patients and colleagues, standards of moral/ethical excellence, conduct, and commitment to the needs of the community.  Dr. Sajan Rao was this year’s winner.  The other outstanding nominees were Drs. Mazen AbuAwad, Todd Bethel, Yashodeep Jadhav, Max Kamerman, Tracey Roth, Ruta Totoraitis, and Shona Velamakanni.   


2018 Nurse of the Year awards, sponsored by the Simms Family Foundation, honored RN Meredith Burt from the Baker Campus, LPN Damia Champagne from the NCH Physician Group, and RN Jessica Golda from the Robert, Mariann, and Megan MacDonald Pediatric Emergency Department of the North Naples Hospital. 


“Having fun doing the right thing” is a modern and thoughtful expression that fits the NCH Hospital Ball.  The folks in 1955 who desired to have a 50-bed hospital to deliver babies and fix broken bones would be astounded and pleased to see the sophisticated 715-bed academic healthcare system serving over half million year-round southwest Florida citizens, snowbirds, and visitors. 


I wonder where the first hospital ball was held and what cause was benefitted.  I’m sure guests felt good about their mission and had an enjoyable time but didn’t imagine starting a sixty-year tradition.  While past successes were no doubt important, our more recent missions—stroke program, neonatal intensive care unit, North Naples Emergency Department renovation, and the Baker Campus Emergency Department renovation—are essential for our times. 


The great and successful goal of helping everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life has been realized in Southwest Florida as together we continue to support the longest continuing tradition—the NCH Hospital Ball.


P.S.  DO YOU HAVE A COLLEAGUE OR FRIEND WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED IN UPDATES?  Please enter their email address at, and we will add them to our complimentary mailing list.


Allen S. Weiss, M.D.

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.