Society Matters | Cottage Health Celebrates at Tiara Ball

Cottage Announces That Campaign Raised $150 Million

Tiara Sponsors Ben and Naomi Bollag with Mary Werft and CEO Ron Werft | Credit: Gail Arnold

On March 25 at the Ritz Carlton Bacara, Cottage Health hosted its Tiara Ball for 400 supporters. The event raised funds for SB Cottage Hospital’s emergency, trauma, and critical care services. 

Oddly enough, the last big pre-COVID lockdown event was Cottage’s February 29, 2020 Tiara Ball, when 500 people stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the foyer during the reception, with a lot of chatter about something called a coronavirus heading our way.

The theme for this year’s gathering, the first since 2020, was a Constellation of Caring. Guests enjoyed a reception in the foyer and on the patio before adjourning to the ballroom, which was adorned in a gold and blue celestial theme, complete with hanging metallic spheres and lights.

A video featured a former patient, Keilani Waxdeck, who sustained multiple traumatic injuries, sharing her gratitude for the care she received during her one-month stay at Cottage.

Board Chair Steve Zola welcomed guests and announced that Cottage’s Reaching Higher Together Campaign raised $150 million, exceeding its $130 million goal. He thanked Campaign Co-Chairs Jelinda DeVorzon and Greg Faulkner along with all the donors.

President and CEO Ron Werft shared some of the uses of the Campaign proceeds, including the expansion of SB Cottage Hospital’s Emergency Department from one designed to serve 25,000 patients annually to one designed to serve 75,000 patients. The ER presently serves about 44,000 patients annually, so significant growth was in the plan. 

Werft noted that along with a larger size, the new ER has a whole new layout designed to better triage those needing immediate care and those with lower acuity illnesses. Once the project is completed at the end of the year, in recognition of an extraordinary gift, Cottage will have the Naomi and Ben Bollag Emergency and Trauma Department.

Campaign proceeds also made possible the renovation and refurbishment of the Little Cottages, which are now the Cottage Family Suites, a 12-unit apartment complex one block from SB Cottage Hospital for out-of-the-area family members visiting patients. About 26 percent of patients at Cottage come from outside the area.

Proceeds support medical education and training programs, including a new simulation training center for both the teaching program and staff. Patterned after the best in the country, the center, according to Werft, will be on a par with the best academic health centers in the United States. Construction starts soon.

Campaign proceeds enabled the establishment of a pediatric residency program, which will help address the shortage of pediatricians.The first class is in place now. Cottage already had residency programs in internal medicine, general surgery, and radiology.

Werft then gave an update on other hospital developments, including the expansion of virtual care, which began in December 2019, right before COVID hit. The platform now includes a Spanish language version, which according to Werft, serves as a very important access point for the Latino community, which makes up 46 percent of our community. Cottage has also expanded its nurse practitioner-led urgent care centers to 15. Located between SLO and Camarillo, these provide 400-500 visits daily.

Werft concluded by paying a much-deserved tribute to staff for their service throughout the pandemic.

Guests then got to dance the night away to music by The Lowdown band.

Belinda Zola and Board Chair Steven Zola
Event Committee Co-Chairs Heather Hambleton and Lisa Iscovich
Boardmember Ginger Salazar, Boardmember Eric Seale, and Sandy Seale
Michael Annese, Boardmember Roberta Griffin, and Boardmember Ernesto Paredes
Event Committee Member Alex Nourse and former board chair Robert Nourse


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