[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics celebrated two new Health Care Heroes at a benefit and awards dinner held at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara that raised funds for the important medical and dental services the organization provides, prioritizing preventive strategies and health education.

Following an energetic reception, emcee Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County’s district attorney, announced dinner and invited guests to the Loggia Ballroom, where appetizers were waiting on tables.

“In my role as district attorney, daily I see the still unmet needs of our community and the vital positive role that Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics can play in the lives of others,” Dudley said.

Established in 1998, the combined clinics of SBNC serve 17,000 low-income, uninsured patients a year.

Dudley also acknowledged some of the vital community members in attendance, including First District county Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara City Councilman Grant House, and SBNC board members Deb Babineau, Candice Nyholt, Kathleen Rodriguez and Paul Jaconette.

Before dinner was served, Dudley also acknowledged some of the past Health Care Heroes in the large crowd, including Dr. James Tamborello, Sybil Rosen, Eileen Bunning, Jane Habermann, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, Penny Jenkins, Dr. Neil Sullivan and Dr. Cindy Bowers, with this year’s honorees recognized later in the evening.

Next, welcome messages were shared by Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics CMO Charles Fenzi, board chair Eileen Bunning and CEO Cynder Sinclair, who spoke about the future of health-care reform.

“What are the Neighborhood Clinics doing to get ready for health-care reform? In two words: capacity and quality,” Sinclair said. “So, we are actively increasing our clinic capacity by expanding hours of operation at our existing clinics and making plans to possibly open a clinic in Goleta in the future. In addition to preparing for the influx of patients through expanded capacity, we are also preparing to meet future demands through improved quality, otherwise known as electronic health records.”

Patrick Krejdovsky, left, Mark Cohoon, Dr. Ann Sharma and Dr. Lyn Shoemaker. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

Patrick Krejdovsky, left, Mark Cohoon, Dr. Ann Sharma and Dr. Lyn Shoemaker. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

A touching video of a patient story was followed by dessert before the unveiling of this year’s 2012 Health Care Heroes for extraordinary contributions to the Santa Barbara community, beginning with the first introduction by Sarah de Tagyos, who welcomed Sue Vincent.

Since 2004, Vincent has been an active member in SBNC’s Smiles program at the Eastside Dental Clinic, teaching children and parents about dental health care, and has actively participated with a variety of community organizations, such as the Assistance League of Santa Barbara, the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College and the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

Dr. Chris Lambert was introduced as the second hero of the evening by his old friend, Bob Parsons, whose company, The Parsons Group, provides enhanced housing for seniors.

Lambert is a Santa Barbara native, with a degree from UCSB, completing his postgraduate training at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. He also spent a 34-year career with the South Coast Emergency Medical Group, and now practices part-time while maintaining an interest in health care and legal consulting in emergency medicine.

“Together we must find ways to redesign our delivery of care to make it accessible and affordable,” Lambert said. “The community clinic model demonstrated by our own SB Neighborhood Clinics is exactly that: efficient, cost effective and proven to deliver high quality comprehensive care. We need a system where the right patient is treated at the right place at the right time. I am convinced that here in the local community is where we can best collaborate to make this happen.”

The evening concluded with the ever-popular Hearts auction as an array of rainbow-colored paper hearts were placed on tables by volunteers. The hearts were inscribed with an array of sponsorship opportunities toward a specific cause or program.

A variety of gift amounts included $1,000 to extended dental care for five low-income children, $800 for 800 glucometer test strips for diabetic patients, $700 for diabetic senior’s podiatry procedures, $600 for hypertension case management and $500 for one root canal for an adult patient.

The Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics thanks the sponsors of its 14th annual Health Care Heroes, including:

» Champion in Healthcare: Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

» Leader in Healthcare: Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and Montecito Bank & Trust

» Advocate for Healthcare: Pacific Western Bank, Venoco Inc. and Cox

» Partner in Healthcare: The Bank of Santa Barbara, Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories, Sansum Clinic, BB&H Benefit Designs, Quest Diagnostics and Sybil Rosen

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.