Parties: In The Heart Land

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

At Oracle Park on February 10, KQED Newsroom host Priya David Clemens was the solo player on field — except for the production crew — emceeing the virtual Hearts in San Francisco fundraiser benefiting the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Led by chair Elizabeth Minick; honorary chair Bob Tandler; reunion chair Janis MacKenzie; host cochairs Simone Balch and Alexander Rosenblatt; corporate chair Howard Chi; and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital CEO Dr. Susan Ehrlich, this heartfelt 18th edition attracted more than 1,100 viewers and raised $1.8 million.

The event was dreamed up in 1993 by civic leaders Ellen Magnin Newman and the late Nancy Hellman Bechtle, who was fondly recognized for her inspired leadership to fund public health services. Exquisite heart-shaped sculptures by Bay Area artists were placed throughout the City for the public to enjoy, prior to getting auctioned off to support the foundation (some are now in private locations while others remain public). Five hundred heart sculptures later, this beloved fete has now raised nearly $34 million to fund innovative public health programs, departments and research that save and transform lives. This year, the 20 “heartworks” — four large-scale, six tabletop and 10 mini versions that were on display in the Ferry Building last month — included a commission by a budding Menlo Park artist: 8-year-old Ridhaan Desai.

Filmed tributes by Mayor London Breed and Speaker Nancy Pelosi preceded a public health conversation with Dr. Priscilla Chan (a UCSF medical graduate as well as cofounder and co-CEO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and SFGHF CEO Kim Meredith. “At ZSFGH we believe in health equity and access to care for all,” said Meredith. “During this pandemic those numbers, adults and children, have only increased.”

For 2022, the Hearts in SF program also revived its Heroes and Hearts Awards, recognizing everyday, unsung heroes providing dedicated patient care at one of the nation’s top public Level I trauma centers: Dr. Neil R. Powe (ZSFGH chief of medicine), Dr. Geoff Manley (ZSFGH chief of neurosurgery) and Dr. Malini K. Singh (ZSFGH vice chief, Department of Emergency Medicine). The environmental services team — which ensures that all facilities, including outdoor COVID testing, are properly sanitized — was honored, too.

“You may not know me or have been treated by me. But tomorrow or the next day, anyone on our trauma team may be your doctor,” noted Manley. “Whether you’re the wealthiest San Franciscan or unhoused, we are your safety-net hospital — delivering the highest level of care to everyone.”

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