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This group raises more than funds for hospital

Say "hospital-related women's group" and what do you think of? Right. Lots of hours spent working on fund-raising events or as hospital volunteers.

Both are important elements of any hospital program. But what about the women who already are involved with such activities or simply don't have time _ and yet feel the need to know more about health care in this country and particularly in the Clearwater/North Pinellas community?

"Women often make health-care decisions for their families" but don't always have enough good information on which to base those decisions, said Beth Goodgame.

You frequently hear about local people going far away for medical treatment, leaving behind family and a built-in support system, when they could have received comparable treatment here, said Pat Rosser.

Beth and Pat started talking back in the spring of 1992 about the need for a women's group for supporters of Morton Plant Hospital. Beth, wife of a Clearwater physician, and Pat, wife of the then-president of the Morton Plant Foundation, took their idea and ran with it. With others, they worked "to establish an educational, social and friend-raising (not fund-raising) network for women interested in the Morton Plant Foundation and the Morton Plant-Mease Health Care family."

A group named Planters began operating in spring 1993 and has more than 100 members.

It's low-key, as promised. "There are no huge aspirations," Beth said. "Our full focus is on education." There have been meetings focusing on cancer in women and Morton Plant's heralded support program for cancer patients. The recent fall luncheon featured a clinical psychologist talking about "the positive, ever-changing and exciting role of the female in parenting."

Speaking at the next meeting, Nov. 10, will be Dr. William Hale, founder and director of the Florida Geriatric Research Program at Morton Plant. "He has made a nationwide contribution," Beth said, but his work is not widely known here.

The January meeting will focus on nutrition and wellness for women.

Today's women have so many demands on their time, Beth said. "Our goal when they leave a (Planters) meeting is for them to say, "Gosh, I'm glad I came. I learned something I didn't know before.'

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Planters wants to reach out to women in the fast-growing Palm Harbor/East Lake area, where Morton Plant has a satellite facility, and further north to the Trinity Communities area in southeast Pasco County, where Morton Plant has broken ground for a hospital.

Low-key? Annual dues are just $25. Members range in age from the 20s to the 80s.

For more information, call Kathleen Simon in the Morton Plant Foundation office, 462-7036.

Lectures aptly named

The late Dr. Al Schick was Morton Plant's chief of radiology for nearly 30 years but also had an abiding interest in education. He began the hospital's continuing medical education program for physicians, and after retirement from active practice became its first director of medical education.

So it's appropriate that his family is honoring him by establishing the Alfred Schick M.D. Memorial Lecture series.

The first lecture, Nov. 15, will feature Dr. Tim Johnson, medical editor for ABC News, who has appeared on World News Tonight, Nightline, 20/20 and Good Morning, America. He will discuss the role of the news media in medicine and how the winners in the Nov. 8 elections will impact health care reform.

His lecture at 7:30 p.m. at the Safety Harbor Spa is open to the public. Tickets are $5 for the lecture (call 462-7500) or $35 for the lecture and a dessert reception hosted by the Schick family (call 462-7155).

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