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Harborview raises a bundle, Ballmer jigs to Mustang Sally

February 28, 2010

The grand ballroom of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel was packed to the gills yesterday in support of Harborview Medical Center.  The 18th Annual Salute Harborview Gala drew a capacity crowd of local luminaries that included Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, PEMCO Insurance CEO Stan McNaughton and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

According to Harborview Executive Director, Eileen Whalen, the medical center raised nearly $2 million for uncompensated care yesterday.  An impressive sum.  Owned by King County and operated by the University of Washington, Harborview provided $155 million in charity care in fiscal year 2009, more by far than any hospital in the state of Washington. 

While the sum raised yesterday is truly substantial, it’s sobering to realize it covers the cost of about five days’ worth of charity care.

Whether you are a billionaire or a welfare recipient, Harborview provides the same exceptional level of care to all who pass through its doors.  It is the only Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma center serving a territory comprising 30% of the U.S. land mass.

KOMO anchor Molly Shen was mistress of ceremonies at the event, serving ably in that role for the past several years.  The organizers did an excellent job as always with my only suggestion for improvement being the sound system.  Pearl Jam’s recent concert at Key Arena was easier on the ears.

Back in 2006, Stan McNaughton accepted Harborview’s Mission of Caring award on behalf of PEMCO Insurance and he has been a generous contributor to Harborview and other institutions over the years.  I had a chance to chat with Mr. McNaughton several years ago at an event at Seattle University.  I walked away thinking he was a fun and engaging fellow, not learning who he was until later.  When I asked what he does for a living, he said, without elaboration, “I work for an insurance company.”  It’s an approach consistent with PEMCO’s popular “We’re a lot like you, a little different” series of advertisements.

This is the first time I have spotted Mr. Ballmer at this event and he gave generously, raising his paddle to the tune of $50,000.  Tentative at first on the dance floor, the Microsoft CEO started to groove when Harborview house band The Frustrations launched into a faithful rendition of “Mustang Sally.”  Fortunately, Steve’s performance was significantly dialed back from one he delivered several years ago.

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