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Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Irving—Local leaders and Baylor Scott & White Irving Healthcare Foundation members got their groove on while celebrating TexasFest with ‘Peace, Love, Health’ at Mercury Studios in Las Colinas on Saturday night, April 6.

“It’s the 40th year of TexasFest,” Kass Prince, one of the event’s co-chairs, said. “It raises money for Baylor Scott & White Irving Healthcare Foundation. The money is going to buy a machine [Spy Elite perfusion device] that tests blood flow during surgery, so surgeons can see where they need to operate.

“The money raised stays here in the community. It’s all about what happens at the Baylor Irving hospital.”

“The equipment the money is being raised for has been requested by the doctors, because it aids them in surgery,” Donna Bourgeois, another co-chair, said.

TexasFest began when Pat Carnell and her friends thought a gala would be a great way to raise money for Irving’s only charitable hospital.

“We’re not a public hospital like Parkland, and we’re not a for-profit like Medical City of Las Colinas,” John Drake, president of the Irving Healthcare Foundation, said. “Parkland gets taxes. Medical city has shareholders. We actually care for the poor, and we don’t get paid for it, but we get a tax exemption. Out of every hundred dollars we bill, we only have $1 leftover to buy equipment.

“We have to buy new mattresses, new x-ray machines, and all of those things are really important. If you don’t have those things, doctors don’t want to send their patients to you. The community wanted to a charitable hospital in their town. They opened the hospital in ’64. They started a foundation ’77, and TexasFest started in 1980.”

Baylor Scott & White Irving will be the first community hospital in the area to have the Spy Elite perfusion device, according to Drake.

“A surgeon has a patient on the table, and they can actually inject the patient with contrast,” Drake said. “Then using the special fluorescent light that this machine offers, they can see good blood flow. If not, they may need to keep cutting tissue until they get to the point where they can get blood to blood, good blood flow. Then you’re going to have better healing.

“It is not just used for the operating room. For example, our vascular surgeon said, ‘I could inject a person’s foot, and in a dark room, shine that light. It would tell me if there’s good blood flow. It would tell me the difference between having to remove half of a foot, because of circulation problems, or if they just need to lose two toes.’ That’s a really important distinction.

“There’s just not enough money left over from operations, so that’s why we go out and ask the community to give. We think tonight if we net $140,000, that will be half of this equipment, and that’s a huge help.”

Mayor Rick Stopfer wore full tie-dye to the gala to support the cause.

“I am wearing lots of tie-dye,” Stopfer said. “This goes back to when we were kids. Usually I like the country western theme they’ve had for many years. I am comfortable in pair of boots and blue jeans. This is a little out of my comfort realm.

“One of the things that it’s interesting with the City of Irving is some of the traditions we’ve had for so many years. We’re very fortunate to have very civic minded leaders. TexasFest is really about everybody having fun, getting to see other people and enjoy.

“People don’t realize how big of city we are,” Stopfer said. “We all come together as a city. We’re anywhere between the 90th and the 93rd largest city in the country. But when it comes to doing something like this, it’s like a little town coming together to make sure the hospital is taken care of. It’s amazing.”

Cindy Schamp, president at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center went all out to fit the theme of TexasFest this year by dressing up as Cher.

“I had to take a double take at Cindy,” Stopfer said. “She really went for her Cher role with the hair and the outfit.”

Schamp thinks this is the perfect type of event for a community hospital.

“TexasFest started in a garage, and it continues to bring people in from the community to have a great time together. This is a type of event a community hospital enjoys,” Schamp said. “The hospital is here to serve our community that means serving people with resources and people without resources. We are really proud of the fact we focus not what they have, but what they need.

“A lot of folks here are blessed, and they choose to come to an event like this and share what they have to make the hospital stronger. I think that’s really great.”

Drake is proud of all the success TexasFest has created over the years.

“In the 40 year history, TexasFest has raised $11 million,” Drake said. “Our foundation has raised $48 million now. TexasFest has been a really important part of our history. Just to think about all the pieces of equipment that have been funded from TexasFest.

“We are grateful we are in a city where people really care. I think there really is a belief in this community that a rising tide raises all ships.”

By the end of the night, the gala raised $220,000 for new surgical equipment to better serve patients at Irving’s Baylor Scott & White Medical Center.

Carolyn Weinzirl received the highest honor of the night when she was chosen as the 2019 Pat Carnell Award recipient for her 500+ hours of volunteerism in support of Canine Companions for Independence®.