by Chanel Ward
Cover Photo: Paramedics Hilary Cassaly and Ame Lozano were honored with the Community Service Award.
The Denver Health Foundation hosted its First Annual Denver Health Paramedics Awards Luncheon at the Grand Ballroom of the Four Season’s Hotel in downtown Denver, raising over $80,000 for the Denver Health Paramedics division.
“Ultimately what you do every single day is save somebodies life.” Robin D. Wittenstein, Denver Health CEO
Nearly 300 guests attended the luncheon on November 8, with Sportscaster Les Shapiro as the Master of Ceremonies. The South Metro Fire Rescue Pipes and Drums played alongside the Denver Health Paramedics Division Honor Guard as they presented The Colors. Denver Health Paramedic, Lara Woodley sang the National Anthem and Chaplain Dirk van der Vorst gave the Invocation.
Shapiro thanked the paramedics for their heroic work, the many honorary guests, sponsors, as well as Josh Hanfling, Chairman of the Denver Health Foundation Board and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, who both serve as the Co-Chairs of the inaugural event.
Ronald Fresquez, Accounting Specialist for the Denver Health Foundation spoke to The Weekly Issue/El Semanario and explained how the event came about. “In the past we’ve held barbeques for the paramedics on the garage side, or a barbeque on one of the parking lots on campus and it got to the point we felt – the foundation and the hospital both felt – that was really not enough for what these people do for us.
“Denver Health and Hospital Authority is what you call a safety net hospital. We’re non-profit, were not like UC Health, we’re not like Kaiser Permanente, we’re not like any of those; we’re a safety net hospital. We take care of all the people that come to us, Medicare, Medicaid, homeless, we foot the bill for that, we take care of that and in order for us to have the paramedics we want out there, we have to do the fundraising to give them the tools that they need in order to take care of people.”
“There is no other hospital in the Denver Metro area that does this, Denver Health and Hospital Authority is the only safety net within the Denver Metro area. We do work with Veterans Hospital, UC Health, University Colorado Hospital, and we have agreements between them, including Children’s Hospital,” explained Fresquez, about the other hospitals in their referral program.
Denver Health’s Chief Executive Officer, Robin D. Wittenstein, shared a frightening moment when her young daughter had trouble breathing after swallowing a small piece of aluminum foil and how the paramedics saved her daughter with care and patience.
“Luckily for me, luckily for my daughter, someone listened and heard what I had to say, and those paramedics wouldn’t leave until they knew she was better,” said Wittenstein
“That is what our guys do every single day. So, I thought about the numbers I could share, I thought about the patient letters I can write, and I thought about all of those things. But ultimately what you do every single day is save somebodies life and most importantly deal with hysterical mothers and people who absolutely need to know that in a moment of crisis when the rest of the world is running away, when the rest of the world is panicking over what to do, there are people who will come and there are people that will stay,” added Wittenstein.
Troy Riggs, Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety, Gary Bryskiewicz, Chief DH Paramedic Division and Dr. Kevin McVaney, the Medical Director DH Paramedic Division, also commended the paramedics for their valiant efforts.
Chanel Ward is an Independent Reporter for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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