Betting on Bklyn Hospital: Casino-themed gala nets more than $1M for medical center

All smiles: From left, Susan Steingass, Carols Nairobi, Lizanne Fontaine, honoree Earl Weiner, and Suzanne Davidson celebrated at Brooklyn Hospital’s 2018 Founders Ball.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

It was a celebration of good health and good fortune.

Hundreds of revelers on Thursday fêted Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Hospital Center at a black-tie bash featuring drinks, dinner, and the chance to win big at casino-style games. The party honored the local hospital’s commitment to providing quality treatment to the community — care that one special guest and former patient said kept him alive while at death’s door.

“[The hospital] saved my life,” said David Hwang, a Tony Award–winning playwright who sought treatment at the DeKalb Avenue facility after someone stabbed him in the neck on nearby on S. Portland Avenue in 2015.

Hwang, who praised doctors for keeping him alive with no long-term damage following the gruesome attack, joined more than 850 people who came out to Downtown’s New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge for Brooklyn Hospital’s 2018 Founders Ball, which celebrated a partnership with the city’s Mount Sinai hospital system that allows the local facility to offer a slew of new cardiac treatments.

And for the first time in the gala’s three-decade history, organizers transformed part of the venue into a casino floor with slot machines, as well as blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker tables, where partygoers could win prizes including tickets to see Elton John and box seats at a Washington Capitals hockey game.

Proceeds from the games and ticket sales raked in just under $1.5 million for the hospital, which will celebrate its 175th year of service in 2020, according to a rep.

The funds will go toward renovations of Brooklyn Hospital’s emergency room, which is currently designed to treat some 40,000 patients annually, but accepts closer to 75,000 a year, according to a bigwig at the medical center.

“We’re going from treating the acutely ill to the health status of the patient,” said Brooklyn Hospital’s executive vice president John Gupta.

Honorees at the festivities included Brooklyn Hospital’s Dr. Srinivas Kesanakurthy, who runs its heart center; Dr. Nelson Menezes, who heads its vascular-surgery department; Dr. Samin Sharma, the head of cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital; corporate lawyer Earl Weiner; and real-estate executive David Schwartz, the son of Schneps Community News Group contributor “Transit Sam”, and the developer seeking a controversial rezoning to build a 40-story tower on Fulton Street blocks from Brooklyn Hospital.

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