21 NOV 2022

New Foundation Board Ready to Start with Heart

Physicians Mark Villalon, M.D., (left) and Shea Pribyl, D.O., speak to a gathering of NorthBay supporters about an effort to expand NorthBay Health Heart & Vascular's suite of catheterization labs.
Physicians Mark Villalon, M.D., (left) and Shea Pribyl, D.O., speak to a gathering of NorthBay supporters about an effort to expand NorthBay Health Heart & Vascular's suite of catheterization labs.

After a pandemic pause and months of reimagining a stronger and more philanthropic future, NorthBay Health Foundation has emerged with a newly established board of directors and a fundraising campaign that’s full of heart.

Quite literally, the new board’s first assignment will be to raise $12 million to update and upgrade NorthBay’s aging cardiac catheterization labs.

NorthBay Health has set aside $18 million for the project, but it needs the $12 million philanthropic boost to make the project become reality, explains NorthBay Health Foundation President Paul McGinty. “There are simply too many lives at stake to put this project on hold any longer.”

The newly seated board of directors includes interventional cardiologist Mark Villalon, M.D., who is also serving to educate the board and the community about the system’s heart and vascular needs.

“Just like hearts, medical equipment has a lifespan, and our first cath lab’s equipment is about to expire,” explained Dr. Villalon. “At the same time, the communities we serve have continued to grow. That translates into more and more patients in need of life-saving procedures.”

NorthBay first started offering catheterization services in 1992. The equipment was upgraded in 2009, when the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center opened, bringing together highly skilled surgeons and clinical staff, equipment and advanced procedures such as open heart surgery.

A second lab was added in 2013, to keep up with the volume of cases. In the years that followed, the Heart & Vascular team has added myriad complex procedures focused on helping patients survive cardiac events.

“Our team and our procedures have gotten more and more advanced,” explained Kim Williams, R.N., senior director of cardiovascular service, “but the equipment we’re using is still the same. Imagine using the same smart phone that you purchased in 2009. Sure, you can make a call, but very few people would be willing to use a 13-year-old phone. The new equipment will be much more precise, efficient and reliable.”

The team eventually hopes to add a third lab, to keep up with the volume of a growing community. In the meantime, the focus is on keeping the two current labs maintained, because there is no room for down time.

“Imagine getting a diagnosis – being told you needed a life-saving procedure … and then having to wait a month or longer because of the backlog,” said Dr. Villalon. “It’s just not right to make patients wait for life-saving care. That’s why we need to start this project today.”

The board has already raised $500,000 to kick off the campaign, with $100,000 coming from the Chairman, Dennis Landis and his wife, Alex. Senior leadership at NorthBay Health has also donated more than $200,000.

It’s a great start,” said Paul, “but we really have our work cut out for us. We know we have a great plan and an important mission, and now we have to connect with those in the community who can help make it happen.”

During the pandemic, Landis teamed up with Al Shaw, Bill Fell and Scott Reynolds to create a core team focused on envisioning a Foundation of the future. Joining that team and Dr. Villalon on the Foundation board are J. Peter Zopfi, D.O., Keyo Tocchini, Sandy Person and Konard Jones, President and CEO of NorthBay Health. All nine will serve three-year terms.

Ultimately, as many as 15 community and civic leaders will be invited to serve on the board, Paul noted. Additional positions will be added over the next two years, to avoid having all board members term out at the same time.

Interested in donating, volunteering or want to learn more about NorthBay Health’s campaign to fund an updated and expanded catheterization lab? Visit NorthBay.org/Foundation.

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