Red Dress Gala

Guests line up for photos at the 2018 edition of the Red Dress Gala held at Church Landing in Meredith to benefit Lakes Region GeneralHealth. The 2020 edition of the event has been called off. (Courtesy photo)

LACONIA — LRGHealthcare has canceled its 2020 Red Dress Gala, an annual event that has helped the health care system raise more than $880,000 for cardiac services and other programs over the last 15 years. This year's event, held at Church Landing in Meredith, raised more than $80,000.

“After much thought and discussion, we have made the hard decision to postpone the Red Dress Gala for one year,” President and CEO Kevin Donovan said in a letter to supporters. “As a valued partner of LRGHealthcare we want to let you know that we plan on having the 16th Red Dress Gala in February 2021.”

He said LRGH leaders are working hard on plans to merge with a larger health care system, an effort intended to solve long-standing financial problems stemming from a heavy debt load and payment problems afflicting many community hospitals.

“Currently, we are working diligently on procuring a partner to help us grow and expand the services we offer as well as benefiting from a partner’s resources, infrastructure and best practices,” Donovan said in the letter. “We are concentrating all our efforts with this focus in mind.”

He has not revealed the name of any organization with which LRGH officials are hoping to reach agreement on a merger.

In April, the health care system laid off three public relations employees, including the director of marketing, in a cost-savings effort.

“That means, we don’t have the resources internally to run the event this year,” Donovan said in an email. “We did look at an external option to run it, but felt it was too expensive and wanted to focus on partnership now and then have it again in 2021.”

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