Bassett Healthcare Network’s fourth annual “Valentine’s Soiree” on Saturday, Feb. 8 raised more than $250,000, which will support Bassett Medical Center’s medical education program. 

Bassett Medical Education Director and retired attending physician Dr. James Dalton was honored at the event.

“It was really an honor and very humbling,” Dalton said. “I appreciate what so many of my colleagues, doctors, nurses and administrators do to try to make us a better place. For me to get recognized was really very nice.”

Exactly what the $250,000 will go toward is still being determined, Dalton said. The money was raised through donations from people in the community, alumni of the residency programs and likely patients and friends in the area, he said. 

He said three possible areas of focus are education in community medicine, communication and humanism. He said faculty would be welcome to put in proposals for ideas they have that may need some funding to get off the ground. 

“We would ask our faculty to come up with creative ideas where they might be able to use those funds to either train themselves or take time away from their other clinical activities to work on developing a curriculum in one or the other of those areas and apply it, present it and include it in the curriculum we have for our residents or our students,” Dalton said. 

The medical education program at Bassett is at least 80 years old, Dalton said. 

“It’s part of our fabric of what we do,” Dalton said. “But we don’t have unlimited resources to do that training, so having some funds and some resources to be creative and to add some of the important things like more training in communication and what it means to be a physician in a community like this is a real gift. And that’s what we intend to do with this. We do all the nuts and bolts pretty well of teaching medicine and this will give us the ability to add a little extra to that.”

Humanism in medicine involves taking a holistic approach to care, he said. 

“It’s the understanding of the whole person that we take care of,” Dalton said. “Not looking at people as a constellation of diseases and different parts of physiology, but looking at them as a whole, as people who have hearts and souls and families and they live in a community and do things that have nothing to do with us, but have everything to do with being humans.”

This, he said, is especially important given the closeness of the communities that Bassett medical professionals serve. Here, physicians may often see their patients at the grocery store or their kids may play sports together, he said, which doesn’t allow for the anonymity that physicians in larger cities may have.  

“This is a place where I think learning about how your patients are people who live in a community and with their family and with other families is ... if you’re doing it right, I think that’s what you teach when you teach what medicine about,” Dalton said. “It’s more than about teaching the science and biology. It’s about teaching the humanity. Those are the kinds of things I hope we can expand upon. It’s always been something I think we do well and maybe a little differently than some places, here at Bassett.”

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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