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Heart-works: SF General Hospital Foundation Fundraiser

San Francisco General Hospital, the city-funded and medically renowned hospital and Level-One trauma center, is a bit like Fort Knox -- you may never actually see the inside but it’s reassuring to know it’s there.

“You never know when you are going to need it and you never know who might need it,” said SF General Hospital Foundation Board Member Pam Baer last week at the Heroes & Hearts Luncheon. “The General is everyone’s safety net.”

And following the overwhelming success of the last fall’s Proposition A bond measure -- passed by a whopping 84 percent of voters to provide $887.4 million for the construction of a new, seismically standardized facility that will accommodate more patients and medical equipment -- that “safety net” is guaranteed to be around for a very long time.

Held beneath a clear tent in the heart of Union Square Park, this fundraiser was first dreamed up by community leaders Nancy Bechtle and Ellen Magnin Newman. The event benefits the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and recognizes local heroes within our medical community.

This year’s honorees: Ed Marquez (a George Washington High math teacher), Dr. Dolph Shapiro (a retired orthopedic surgeon who now volunteers as a math and reading tutor at Sandpiper Elementary School), Dr. Ilana Trubel (a veterinarian who founded and runs Veterinary Street Outreach Services which services companion animals of homeless San Franciscans), Marlis Tanner (an 84-year-old patient volunteer who has served at SF General for 50 years), Midge Wilson (Executive Director of the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center), Dr. Hal Yee (Professor of Medicine and Chief of Gastroenterology at SF General) and SF General CEO Gene Marie O’Connell, who retires in March after being at the helm of this institution for 25 years.

“Even though I’m old and have trouble walking,” said Hero Marlis Tanner, “I know how lucky I am when I see so many sick people and I get so much from the experience because I’m able to make them happy.”

SF General Trauma Surgeon and UCSF Professor of Clinical Surgery Dr. Andre Campbell and Mayor Gavin Newsom

Timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day, the Heroes and Hearts Luncheon is also a warm-hearted and artistic event which lifts spirits (and wallets) through the heroes’ inspiration and the auction of ginormous hearts painted by local artists.

A particular standout this year: My Heart by artist Sirron Norris who created a colorful and cartoonish homage to San Francisco that featured a one-word cartoon blurb that read, “Lost.”

“It’s the idea of ‘loss,’ like when you lose your heart to a city like San Francisco, it’s just gone,” said Norris, explaining the origin of his heart-work. “I didn’t think I’d get so carried away but as soon as I started painting, it opened up a door that I couldn’t shut.”

Dr. Andre Campbell, who became a household name during The General’s “Yes on Prop A” campaign, was thrilled with the outcome of both the campaign and the luncheon.

“We do save lives here. And that’s part of the great joy and great honor in our work here at The General,” said Campbell. “We are the heart of the city.”

Campbell was also overjoyed to actually be in attendance at all.

“I was in surgery just this morning,” said Campbell during the event. “Fortunately my O.R. hours for today were cut just so I could come to this lunch!”


Protocol Chief Charlotte Mailliard Shultz and "Hearts" co-founder Nancy Bechtle

SF General Hospital Foundation President and "Hearts" Lunch co-founder Judy Guggenhime with SF General CEO and honoree Gene Marie O'Connell

"Hearts" honorees Marlis Tanner and Dr. Dolph Shapiro

SF General Foundation Board Member and "Hearts" Lunch co-founder Pam Baer and her husband, Giants poohbah Larry Baer

"Hearts" Lunch co-chairman Rich Guggenhime and City Attorney Dennis Herrera

Walter Newman and his wife, "Hearts" co-founder Ellen Magnin Newman

Artist Sirron Norris with his creation in Union Square

Sloan Barnett and Jessica Parish Galloway

Former Mayor Willie Brown and Sonya Molodetskaya

Rhea Friend and Charlene Harvey

Without the Hurt the Heart Is Hollow by artist John Marvuglio

Wendy Paskin Jordan (left) with SF Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and her husband, former Mayor Frank Jordan

Yurie Pascarella and O.J. Shansby

Table centerpiece