Merlene Davis: Hospital's breast cancer campaign is put to music — and video

Employees at Frankfort Regional Medical Center created a dance video to compete in the Pink Glove Dance competition to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Employees at Frankfort Regional Medical Center created a dance video to compete in the Pink Glove Dance competition to raise awareness of breast cancer. Photo provided

Say what you will about their moves, but there's no doubt the employees of Frankfort Regional Medical Center competed from their hearts as they danced to win money for breast cancer awareness.

The 130 employees from various departments and their family members created a video for the 2012 Pink Glove Dance Competition, an online contest that donates money to charities selected by the top three vote-getters.

Mary Tidey, the hospital's director of case management, said she learned of the competition last year, when she was asked to vote for an organization that had submitted a video. The contest, which encourages organizations to produce music videos featuring health care workers and others, is sponsored by Medline Industries, a maker of medical and surgical supplies, including the pink gloves seen in each video.

Last spring, Tidey began the process for Frankfort Regional.

"It is a lot of work," including recruiting employees and getting a choreographer for the big group dance, Tidey said. "There was a time crunch and just corralling them and getting them to dance."

She told people who said they couldn't dance to "move their hands and bounce. They did it."

Participants from 260 organizations in the United States and Canada submitted entries this year, which is the fourth for the competition and the second year that it was open nationwide.

Voting began Oct. 12 and was scheduled to run two weeks, as last year's contest did. But Medline's Web site received more than 1 million votes on the first day, causing it to crash. It was back up the next day, and the deadline to vote was extended until Nov. 2.

Frankfort Regional Medical Center is one of six Kentucky medical centers vying this year. The others are in Richmond, Harrodsburg, Benton, Paducah and Williamsburg.

Linda Rittermeyer, chief nursing officer at Frankfort Regional, is seen wearing pink stilettos in their video. She already owned and still wears the shoes on occasion.

She volunteered because of a family history of breast cancer and her own bout with the disease seven years ago.

"I've been a nurse for nearly 30 years," she said, "and I've seen what breast cancer does to families. I have a daughter and three granddaughters to worry about."

Because the women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer sometimes need help through their cancer journey, the employees chose Kentucky Pink Connection as the recipient of any winnings they might receive.

Founded in 2008 and based in Lexington, the statewide program not only teaches the importance of mammograms; it also removes roadblocks to screenings, diagnosis and treatment. Those barriers could include basic needs including transportation, child care and wigs, and financial support and help with insurance issues.

"We are the safety net," said Vicki Blevins, executive director.

Susan Reffett, oncology nurse navigator at Frankfort Regional, said that when patients are first told of their diagnosis, "the only thing they hear is cancer. Their next question after the shock wears off is, 'What do I do next?'"

She and Blevins coordinate their efforts so the patient receives optimum care and support.

With Kentucky Pink Connection as their chosen charity, all Frankfort needed were volunteers to dance.

To the sounds of Katy Perry's Part of Me, the Frankfort video opens with an emergency vehicle arriving. When the doors open, employees step, jump or dance out of the vehicle, accompanied by pink balloons. A choreographed group performance is followed by individual employees freestyling.

You can't help but smile.

You must have a Facebook account to vote and may vote only once.

Last year's winner received 60,000 votes. On Monday, Frankfort's video had received a little more than 900, which ranked it second for the Kentucky entrants, behind 2,800 for Paducah's Western Baptist Hospital and Murray State University.

"What we really need is votes," Rittermeyer said. "We want you to vote for us.

"That is how we win the money for (Kentucky) Pink Connection."

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