Mardi Paws geauxs pink, docs paint their nails all to fight breast cancer | St. Tammany community news

A little over a month ago, Ace, a 2-year-old female Lab mix, was an orphaned pup dropped off at the St. Tammany Parish animal shelter in Lacombe.

Her former owners needed to part ways with the black beauty because she is said to have an issue with seizures, and the family couldn’t afford her care.

Fast forward to October: Ace is still in the shelter, but now she’s also an unorthodox champion for breast cancer awareness.

Like some other shelter pups, has taken on a new role wearing pink accessories to help promote breast cancer awareness as part of the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s annual “Geaux Pink” campaign in October. 

When it comes to promoting a cause amid the chaos of COVID-19 and ongoing mandates, it’s all about creativity, said Erica Kelt, director of development for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington, and finding novel ways to fight a disease that affects every one in eight women.

Ace is part of Bark for a Cure, hosted by Mardi Paws, which is a weeklong event Oct. 11-17 online on the Mardi Paws Facebook or The event features raffles, contests and, of course, fundraising. Proceeds from the event will benefit the cancer center.

“We just have a soft spot in our hearts for people that are suffering and we want to do anything we can to make it a little bit easier on them,” said Mardi Paws founder Denise Gutnisky.

The Geaux Pink effort is ongoing through the month of October, and donors can take on any method of fundraising — individual or as a team — and contribute directly online. All moneys raised will go toward the center’s breast cancer screening and prevention efforts, said Kelt, which includes the mobile unit that sets up at various public places throughout the parish.

“You’ll see our mobile screening unit or mammogram unit at place like a Walgreens or Winn-Dixie because people are already going there,” said Kelt. “People can just go there and get screened so they don’t have to make a second appointment at their doctor’s office.”

Navigators are also there to assist if something is discovered during the test that needs follow-up.

In the case of Dr. Jay Saux, oncologist, and Dr. Angela Buonagura, breast surgeon, their message is in the fingernails. The two teamed up to get their nails done up in pink, and they’re encouraging others to do the same and donate.

According to the Geaux Pink website, the idea is to get pink fingernails and toenails for the month of October and donate to the cancer center in Covington. 

Saux, who is known throughout the community for his flamboyant pirate costumes and upbeat attitude, said he went with a bold sparkle pink gel wrap, while Dr. Buonagura decided on a soft pink polish. The two got their nails done together at the P&G Salon in Covington while chatting about the importance of breast cancer awareness. It’s a subject that both doctors are passionate about

St. Tammany Health System lauded for achievements | St. Tammany community news

Press Ganey named St. Tammany Health System among recipients of its annual performance achievement awards that honor top-performing health care organizations with a commitment to deliver reliably safe, compassionate, high-quality care and create a culture of excellence that engages and supports caregivers.

The system’s Women’s Pavilion won the Guardian of Excellence for Patient Experience in Outpatient Services, and its flagship, St. Tammany Parish Hospital, won the Guardian of Excellence for Employee Engagement.

These awards mean that the system achieved the 95th percentile for each reporting period of the award year for patient experience, engagement, or clinical quality performance. Only 350 organizations nationwide received this prestigious recognition.

“To achieve these levels of success, (health system) leaders embraced the humanity of health care,” said Patrick T. Ryan, chairman and chief executive officer of Press Ganey. “They … consistently deliver safe, high-quality care in the complex health care environment. Their ongoing focus on clinical and service excellence is particularly crucial as the pandemic continues to challenge their day-to-day operations.”

Press Ganey pioneered the health care performance improvement movement more than 35 years ago and today works with more than 41,000 health care facilities in its mission to reduce patient suffering and enhance caregiver resilience to improve the overall safety, quality and experience of care.

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