When Alice Moss talks about tonight's 24th annual Valentine Ball, her mind isn't on the glitz and dancing. She's thinking about how many people in Beaufort will benefit from the money raised for the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The foundation has raised more than $3.7 million with the balls, and Moss, its executive director, hopes to push that number to more than $4 million this year.
"We feel like we have a very special hospital and that it's a special gift to be part of helping the hospital grow," she said.
More than 700 people are expected to attend the Valentine Ball, which starts with small dinner parties throughout Beaufort and ends at the historic Lyceum on Parris Island with dancing, dessert and a silent auction. All proceeds go to the foundation, and, this year, are designated for the LifeFit program.
The foundation supports the hospital -- both are nonprofit organizations -- with money for large projects, such as the recently renovated Pratt Emergency Center and the Keyserling Cancer Center.
Some of the major contributions have included $3.5 million each for the Cochrane Heart Center and the Keyserling Cancer Center. At least $1 million has gone to the LifeFit program, and $1 million of employees' donations are going to the new emergency room, Moss said.
"That speaks volumes about the type of institution we are and the culture that is there and the generosity of our employees," she said. It also provides money each year to purchase equipment and technology the hospital's budget does not cover.
"The less that's left over at the end of the year, the more important the foundation is," hospital board of trustees chairman Jerry Schulze said.
The hospital and foundation work together to identify financial needs, he said.
And those needs are growing.
Last year was the first time in at least a decade that Beaufort Memorial lost money. The hospital is hoping to break even this year on a $140 million budget, but he anticipates about $7 million in federal revenue cuts if South Carolina does not participate in the Affordable Care Act.
With hospital revenue largely going to fixed personnel, supply and building costs, the foundation's assistance with capital projects and equipment purchases becomes even more important.
"The problem is right now we're barely breaking even," Schulze said.