A sold-out crowd of 162 diners and bidders at the 24th annual Healthy Futures dinner auction raised an event record of more than $154,000 toward Wallowa Memorial Hospital’s eagerly awaited new 4x4 ambulance on Saturday night. “It was a great evening,” said emcee Randy Morgan. “There are so very many generous people here in Wallowa County.” In addition to the live and silent auctions, substantial donations for the evening of fundraising came from Carl and Nancy Lincoln, the estate of Donald and Dorothy Hubbard, an anonymous donor who pledged to double the amount raised by the auction up to $25,000 and another anonymous donor who chipped in $14,000.
The new ambulance, which will cost about $400,000, will increase the hospital’s fleet of ambulances to a total of four, one of which is stationed in Wallowa. “In the past 10 years, the ambulance call volume has gone up by 25%, from 500 per year to about 750 now,” said EMS director Tim Peck. “The new 4x4 ambulance will reduce the risk to patients we are transporting, especially in winter weather.” Peck noted that the new ambulance will also help keep Wallowa County’s emergency funds here, rather than requiring costly Life Flight transportation when the weather is too poor for aircraft to land here, and/or patients do not require Life Flight transport to distant medical centers.
Hospital CEO Larry Davy provided an overview of Wallowa Memorial Hospital’s many accolades this past year. They include ranking in the top 100 of U.S. hospitals, and one of only two in Oregon honored for care quality by the U.S. Department of Health, being one of only four hospitals in Oregon achieving a five star rating from Medicaid/Medicare. Mountain View clinic also received a rare 50 out of 50 points rating from Medicare. Davy anticipates that the new medical spaces in the Mountain View/Winding Waters building will be ready for use in the first week of December. He also noted that the hospital anticipates completing its new medical offices in Joseph in 2021 and is looking for a clinic site in Wallowa. “Every week, about 80 people drive from Wallowa to Enterprise for medical care,” Davy said. “We need to serve them closer to home.”
The Healthy Futures dinner auction included numerous silent auction items, from a pair of Olaf ceramic cups to a Vault Gym membership, to a Wild West Pendleton package that included tickets to the Pendleton Roundup, and dinner at Hamleys. The live auction included a Stihl chainsaw, donated by Wallowa County Grain Growers, accompanied by a $250 gift certificate to Joseph Hardware that went for $900, a cedar-lined chest handmade by Dr. Boyd that garnered $2,400, and a Minam Lodge vacation that brought $2,000. Bidders were mindful that their funds were going to a worthy cause. Asked why she invested $1,100 to learn the art of beer brewing from Nick Lunde, Gail Hillock said it was going to be a gift for her sons, both of whom wanted to learn how to brew good beer, but also noted “The main reason is a donation to the hospital, which is doing really well and is something that we all need.”