SARANAC LAKE - Adirondack Medical Center has lined up some star power to help celebrate its centennial this summer.
Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau - who grew up in Saranac Lake - and his wife, former NBC "Today" show host Jane Pauley, will co-host AMC's centennial gala July 9 on the grounds of Trudeau Institute.
Hannah Hanford, executive director of the Adirondack Medical Center Foundation, said the event will actually mark several milestones in the history of the hospital, which was founded in August 1911 as the General Hospital of Saranac Lake.
Hannah Hanford, left, executive director of the Adirondack Medical Center Foundation, and Gina DuMond, chair of AMC’s centennial gala committee, look at the original book of minutes taken from the meeting in August 1911 when the General Hospital of Saranac Lake was founded.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"In addition to 100 years in Saranac Lake, it's also the 20th year of the merger of Placid Memorial Hospital and the General Hospital of Saranac Lake," she said. "It's also the fifth anniversary of Uihlein and Mercy (nursing homes) coming under the AMC umbrella. We have a lot of things to celebrate."
Although Garry Trudeau makes few public appearances, Hanford and Gina DuMond, chairwoman of the gala committee, said getting him involved in the gala was relatively easy.
"We sent him an email, and he wrote back saying, 'We'd be honored and happy to do so,'" Hanford said. "It was really nice to know that someone like him will come home and is still in touch with his Saranac Lake roots."
Trudeau also returned to Saranac Lake last summer to host an event for Patriot Hills at Saranac Lake, a proposed reintegration center for soldiers and their families.
Part of the reason he may have been so willing to co-host AMC's gala is that hospital officials plan to honor his father, the late Dr. Frank Trudeau, who practiced internal medicine in Saranac Lake from 1954 until his retirement in 1985. He was also chief of medicine at the General Hospital from 1960 to 1977.
That's why it made sense to host the gala at Trudeau Institute, Hanford said.
"Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau came to Saranac Lake and founded the legacy of healing in this community," she said. "Now there's the Trudeau Institute. We're honoring Dr. Frank Trudeau at our gala for his service to the hospital and the community, on the grounds of the institute founded by his grandfather. And Garry Trudeau, the great-grandson of the founder, and Jane Pauley will be our honorary co-chairs. It's the healing legacy coming full circle."
As many as 300 guests are expected for what will be the 14th annual AMC gala. The event will feature a champagne reception, dinner, dancing and live music. An auction will be held for dozens of prizes including tickets to a New York Yankees game, a dinner party for six at AMC CEO Chandler Ralph's home, vacation getaways and golf packages.
A separate raffle for the gala is being held now for three vacation packages - six nights, five nights and four nights - to Jamaica, including meals, accommodations and airfare. Tickets cost $20 each or 6 for $100 and are on sale at the AMC Foundation office.
This year's gala is a fundraiser for a new, $500,000 surgical suite for the Saranac Lake hospital's obstetrical wing, Hanford said.
"If a mom is in labor and the physician decides to do a C-section, in the past you'd have to go down the hallway to the OR, which is a bit of an inconvenience and a little nerve-wracking," Hanford said. "Putting the surgical suite right in obstetrics will make things so much better for families."
AMC has been celebrating its centennial this year with events and activities each month. Upcoming events include a community health fair at the Wild Center, a float in the Woodsmen's Parade in Tupper Lake, golf tournaments and a motorcycle cruise.
The hospital has also begun a "StoryCorps" project, recording interviews with local people about the history of health care in the area. The interviews will eventually be posted on the hospital's website.