“USF: Unstoppable” campaign kicks off

Supporters of USF Health kicked off the USF: Unstoppable campaign Tuesday evening, Oct. 20, by toasting with pomegranate “Health-tinis,” playing with a simulator baby used to teach nursing and medical students, and getting free flu shots.

It was all part of a gala to launch the public phase of the most comprehensive capital campaign in USF’s history. The goal: to raise $600 million. More than 500 donors, alumni, faculty, staff and friends were on hand to hear the announcement by Judy Genshaft, president of the USF System, USF Foundation CEO Joel Momberg and Campaign Chair Les Muma.

The USF Health exhibit presented a vision of Health 2020.

So far, the campaign has raised $317 million in donor gifts and pledges.

“Tonight is a night to celebrate two things: perseverance and promise,” said Genshaft. “Our students are solving big problems. Our faculty is changing the world. USF is building the university of the future. We believe our mission to serve the educational, economic and health needs of our community, Florida and the world are too important to be deterred or delayed.”

President Judy Genshaft displays a test tube full of USF Health’s favorite beverage: a Health-tini.

Two of the campaign’s most significant early gifts have gone to benefit projects at USF Health. Frank and Carol Morsani donated $10 million, used to help build the Frank and Carol Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, as well as for sports facilities.

Muma and his wife, Pam, donated $6 million to fund neonatal research, as well as to build an neonatal intensive care unit at Tampa General Hospital. They gave another $3 million to athletics.

At Tuesday’s event, the USF Marshall Student Center was transformed by nearly two dozen exhibits showing off USF programs. At the USF Health exhibit, guests were treated to the “Health-tinis,” full of pomegranate antioxidants and delivered in mock test tubes. Video monitors featured Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine, sharing USF Health’s vision for the future of health care, Health 2020, along with a montage of images from medicine, nursing and public health.

NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders gets his balance checked by physical therapy students Heather Matako, left, and Elizabeth Morgan.

Physical therapy students helped guests measure their balance using a Biosway Balance machine. Guests who stood on the machine’s platform – including a spell with their eyes closed, teetering on a block of foam – got to see how they compare to others their age on several measures of balance. Physical therapists can use the data to develop therapies to improve balance and prevent falls.

He may be the CEO, but Dr. Stephen Klasko still delivers babies…real or, in this case, simulated.

The star of the show may have been the exhibit’s youngest member: the simulator baby. Faculty members from the College of Nursing dressed the baby in a “Future Bull” T-shirt and named him Rocky to mark the occasion. A steady stream of visitors came to play with Rocky, hearing him cry, feeling his heart beat, and even watching him turn blue because of breathing difficulties. Each time, of course, he was swiftly rescued by clinical instructor Jenny Molloy and teaching lab assistant Freida Lahti, who demonstrated some of the skills that nursing and medical students learn by caring for Rocky.

Dee Jeffers, program director in the College of Public Health’s Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies, stopped by and was captivated. She donned a stethoscope and listened to Rocky breathe.

“I didn’t know we did this,” she said. “There’s so much happening at USF, you just can’t keep up with it. The knowledge explosion for students – it’s amazing.”

Freida Lahti helps Baby Rocky’s simulated breathing return to normal.

– Story by Lisa Greene, USF Health Communications
– Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications