An introspect, fifteen years in the making
15 Years In the Making …
Artscapade, the annual event benefitting Patrons of the Hearts (POTH), is celebrating fifteen years of bringing together philanthropy, children’s health institutions, the arts community in all its forms, generous giving friends, knowledgeable teams of physicians and medical staff, business owners, performers, foodies, and grateful families to create a fun celebration that raises funds for POTH. These funds help provide specialized cardiac care at Wolfson Children’s Hospital (WCH) and give hope to families of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) who otherwise would not have access to this high level of care where they live.
Patrons of the Hearts was founded by pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jose Ettedgui and his wife Hilda Ettedgui (that’s me, the non-medical and always mother before anything else me). This is a program that functions in collaboration with WCH and the UF Health Pediatric Cardiovascular Center in Jacksonville. It has the full support of all medical entities involved in providing the best possible cardiac care at our local children’s hospital. By bringing international children with CHD to Jacksonville for much needed heart care, the program has saved lives and enhanced quality of life for families from near and far regions of the world.
Of course, much of its success pivots on the generous spirit of everyone who has been involved with POTH in one way or another, as a donor or caregiver, as a parent or a surgeon, as an artist or photographer, a writer or performer, a business person or volunteer. In other words, the generous and multifaceted POTH community.
“Since the beginning of Patrons I ‘wonder’ at the universal and diverse support from the citizens of our region. I ‘wonder’ in seeing the increased financial support over these years. I ‘wonder’ in the incredible work of the physicians and medical team and all those who support their endeavors. And the ‘wonder’ of children who arrive from impoverished countries worldwide who have been healed. ‘Wonder’ is the miracle of Patrons.”
John Bunker, artist and committee member since 2005
Since its inception, Artscapade has been the main financial engine moving POTH forward. What started off in 2005 as an effort to raise $20,000 to help provide cardiac surgery for three-to-five children from impoverished countries, actually brought in a whopping $60,000!
We were blown away by the generosity of the Jacksonville community in all its layers. We were humbled and amazed by the support and encouragement that became the springboard to launch Patrons into what it has become today: a self-supported program that gives access to highly specialized cardiac care to international children here at our local WCH, and helps show the world this fantastic facility and the amazing team of professionals that make it an international medical destination for cardiac patients.
Thoughts … On Goals and Hopes
The original goal we presented in 2005 to the hospital and our committee of raising $500,000 in the first five years turned into two substantial endowments by 2019:
1. A Patient Care Endowment which has raised $2.3 million to date, was created to give the gift of life to these children, and offer them the same expert care that our local and regional families are fortunate to have when needed.
2. A Professorship Endowment, which now totals $1.3 million, was created for the academic enrichment of pediatric cardiac nurses, anesthesiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac intensivists and cardiologists who are involved in the care of Patrons’ patients.
As Patrons of the Hearts grows, the number of children treated per year also grows and so the goals for funding change.
“The wonder of Patrons of the Hearts is its double benefit. Your heart is in the right place when you graciously give to others in need and your donation repairs a child’s heart so they can live a long and normal life. A winning situation for all involved!”
Bill and Sally Green, donors and sponsors of patients from the Spice Island of Grenada
… On the Facts
Worldwide, CHD is the most common birth defect, occurring in approximately eight of every one-thousand live births. These defects present themselves in a large range of severity and complexity, and so do the treatments.
In consequence, the complexity of these defects requires a multidisciplinary team of specialists that is rarely available in developing nations. The treatments involved in repairing CHD can range from minimally invasive transcatheter procedures to major open heart surgery with very high medical costs.
Our local pediatricians are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of CHD that lead to early referral for evaluation and treatment. However, in less developed nations many of these symptoms go unrecognized and the disease can progress to a stage where repair is no longer possible.
One of the side projects of POTH has been to provide telemedicine equipment for physicians on the island of Grenada to help make a timely diagnosis for treatment and to allow follow-up care for children who have received care at WCH.
We are often asked how the patients learn about POTH and how they are chosen. And I have to say there are as many answers as there are stories of patients, each circumstance unique. What they all have in common is this: families blindly and unreservedly putting all their hope and faith in the doctors and medical teams at WCH.