Last Updated on October 5, 2023 1:18 pm
On September 13, the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation celebrated their annual Pinnacle Society recognition dinner at Blowing Rock Country Club. Friends and benefactors of the healthcare system gathered to celebrate decades of contributions toward supporting healthcare in the High Country.
Special recognition was given to those donors in attendance whose lifetime contributions have reached certain milestones in the past year. Those donors included Ken and Donna Lewis, Michael and Mary Bost Gray, The Broyhill Family Foundation, and Neil and Nancy Schaffel.
The evening culminated with the announcement of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Since 2010, the Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to individuals in recognition of exceptional insight and leadership in support of the Foundation’s efforts in “Making Life Better” for people of the High Country.
This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Michael and Mary Bost Gray of Blowing Rock, NC.
Creation of the Patient Emergency Fund
In 2007, Dr. Herman Godwin (retired ARHS Chief Medical Officer and oncologist) recognized a desperate need to provide financial support to patients in the High Country who were experiencing financial hardship.
He recognized that so many patients were unable to get the care they need because they could not afford transportation to (and from) treatment. They could not cover the costs of medications required for healing. They could not pay their electric bill — or for fuel to heat their homes. Many of these patients were forced to make difficult decisions about where their next meal would come from. He knew that the socioeconomic circumstances facing these patients would not allow them to adequately heal.
So on a cold winter evening that year Dr. Godwin invited Michael and Mary Bost Gray to dinner at Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock to discuss this heartbreaking set of circumstances. As a compassionate caregiver Dr. Godwin told Michael and Mary Bost story after story of desperate need. He described pregnant women who didn’t have the resources for prenatal care. He talked about cancer patients who didn’t get chemotherapy because they didn’t have a ride to treatment. He described unique and unsettling circumstances of so many people who had so few options.
That very night, after lengthy and tearful conversation, Michael and Mary Bost enthusiastically agreed to provide the initial funding for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation’s Patient Emergency Fund. Now, over the past 16 years the Gray’s have provided significant annual support to keep the program ongoing.
A Couple Who Inspired Others
What is perhaps more inspiring is how many people have joined the Grays in supporting the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation Patient Emergency Fund. Since the fund’s inception, it has received gifts from 220 different individuals and organizations.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (now UNC Health Appalachian) has even developed an employee campaign to support the Patient Emergency Fund.
Rob Hudspeth, President of the Appalachian Regional healthcare Foundation commented, “We have had people give a hundred thousand dollars — and we’ve also had employees in our healthcare system designate one dollar from their bi-monthly paychecks to support the fund. The Gray’s generosity and commitment over the years truly inspired others.”
Helping Patients Move Forward in Recovery
Robin Fox, Director of Care Management for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System works with a team of social workers to oversee and manage the funds. She added, “This fund has offered so much hope to the patients we serve. It is an honor to be able to provide assistance for basic needs, so that our patients can move forward in recovery.”
The Pinnacle Society event concluded with Fox providing numerous recollections of grateful patients that have received support from this fund. She provided testimonials from staff on the lives that have been changed forever.
She noted that one of her favorite things about the Patient Emergency Fund is the annual lunch (or dinner) with the Grays. She emotionally expressed how much she loves being able to tell them first-hand about the lives they’ve saved. She added, “When the Foundation calls and says, ‘we are having lunch with Michael and Mary Bost, my heart swells…it’s always such a joyous occasion. Every single time we are together I am reminded they not just donors – they are angels.”
After Fox’s comments, the Pinnacle Society event concluded with a room full of tearful benefactors bearing witness to the legacy of the generosity of Michael and Mary Bost Gray.
Support the Patient Emergency Fund
If you are interested in receiving more information about this fund or want details about how to donate to this fund please visit apprhs.org/foundation.