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Sold Out 50th Anniversary "Sapphire Soiree" Raises $650,000 for El Camino Hospital Cancer Center

Mountain View, CA - May 27, 2011 - When Dr. Shyamali Singhal accepted the position of Medical Director of the El Camino Hospital Cancer Center, delivering world class cancer treatment was simply a given. But Dr. Singhal and her colleagues set their sights even higher: creating a place where each patient receives individual, personalized attention and support.

That objective got a $650,000 boost this month at the Sapphire Soiree, El Camino Hospital Foundation's first annual anniversary gala. Rocking out to the energetic music of Grammy winner Kenny Loggins and spurred on by a $250,000 matching contribution from honorary co-chairs Pamela and Ed Taft and a $100,000 gift from the Melchor family, the black tie crowd of 420 raised enough money to fund a new Patient Navigator program for the Cancer Center.

"Patient Navigators will enhance care in two ways," said Dr. Singhal. "First, they'll serve as patient advocates, providing assistance to patients, survivors, families, and caregivers to help them chart a course through the healthcare system. They can provide practical help such as arranging transportation to and from treatment, help with insurance and financial issues and function as a guide through the daunting complexities of evaluating treatment options."

"Second, they will work directly with physicians to insure that patients are appropriately referred to available support services," Dr. Singhal continued. "That might include making sure that patients' test and results are complete and available to the physician, suggesting genetic testing for a breast cancer patient, or helping identify clinical trials that might be of benefit.

"Operating a world class cancer center involves a balancing act," said Dr. Shane Dormady, an oncologist who practices at El Camino Hospital Cancer Center. "We want to provide aggressive, multi-disciplinary treatment using the most advanced technologies available, but we can never lose sight of the fact that we are treating real people. They have families, hopes and dreams. Providing personalized support as they face the many challenges of this disease is just as important as providing quality medical care. This fundraising event has helped insure our ability to do that."

The sold-out event held at the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in Menlo Park, celebrated the hospital's 50th anniversary and included a retrospective video highlighting its past milestone achievements. But the event focus was firmly on the hospital's future. After a moving testimonial from cancer patient Ethel Herr, the challenge grant from Pamela and Ed Taft was unveiled.

"We felt it was important to make a statement about how much we value and believe in the El Camino Hospital Cancer Center. We were delighted to see that our contribution really got the ball rolling, motivating others to step up, too," said Pamela Taft.

"Our annual gala Sapphire Soiree exceeded every expectation," said Bernis Kretchmar, who co-chaired the event with husband Larry. "It was thrilling to see the level of support and enthusiasm and know that the night's results will help maintain world class care at our extraordinary Cancer Center."

"It was so much more than we anticipated given the economic climate," said Larry Kretchmar. "This community is proud of the exceptional quality and innovation at El Camino Hospital, and they've demonstrated their willingness to support its programs."

Lead sponsors for the event were Verifone and Vocera. Palo Alto's Darren McClung Precious Jewelry contributed a 4.8 carat sapphire, a prize for a lucky purchaser of one of the glasses of champagne sold at the event and a unique twist on the event's name and theme.