Turlock, CA- When Emanuel Medical Center's talented cardiovascular team goes into surgery, there's another team standing behind them - the more than 300 Legacy Circle volunteers who raise money to help make open heart surgery at Emanuel possible.
Last year, donors and volunteers in Emanuel's Legacy Circle annual giving campaign raised more than $1 million in just six weeks to support the hospital's expanding cardiac care program, and this year's goal is to raise $1 million more.
"People give to a good cause; that's what it's all about," said Turlock's Bill Gibbs, the fund drive co-chair with his wife Cindy. "And now we're seeing some of the results of the program - multiple open heart surgeries are happening here in Turlock, and a large number of cardiac catheterization procedures."
Since opening in May, Emanuel's cardiothoracic and vascular surgery team, led by Dr. Harold Tabaie, the medical director of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery, has performed several open heart surgeries, including bypass operations and valve repairs.
In addition, local cardiologists have used the advanced Cardiac Cath and Interventional Lab at Emanuel to perform 14 emergency angioplasty procedures in the past three months to open clogged coronary arteries in patients having heart attacks. The lab is also used for diagnostic and other interventional procedures, and 600 of those have already been performed this year.
"During this campaign, we're going to hear some of those stories," said Shirley Pok, Emanuel's vice president of development. "These are life-changing and life-saving stories from people who wouldn't have survived a 30-minute drive to another hospital."
As Emanuel performs more cardiac procedures, those stories are becoming more common. Gibbs even recently happened upon one of Emanuel's first open heart patients, a women from Hilmar who didn't know he was a major volunteer for the hospital.
"She went on and on about how she felt so blessed to have had the procedure at Emanuel," he said. "She couldn't believe we have that advanced capability so close to her home and she was so pleased with the doctors and care team."
Legacy Circle uses a team structure to promote giving, with 29 team owners recruiting volunteers who then ask others to give, explained Jana Rhine, the hospital's director of annual giving.
"The fellowship we all have with each other, along with the friendly competition between teams, is just wonderful,' she said.
The next phase of Emanuel's cardiac program is opening two new cardiac operating suites - including a cutting-edge hybrid room where the surgical table is integrated with an interventional radiology scanner normally found in a catheterization lab. That integration allows one surgeon to control both the table and the scanner, and will allow Emanuel doctors to treat two emergency patients at once.
"We've already had instances where we were treating one patient in the cath lab when a heart attack patient arrived in the emergency room," Pok said. "So the need for additional services is evident."
The new surgical suites will cost nearly $4.5 million to build and equip, and are scheduled to open in late 2012. Legacy Circle is committed to raising $5 million in five years to support the $10.5 million program.
This year's campaign kicks off August 25 and runs for six weeks. To donate online visit emanuelmedicalcenter.org/give, or phone (209) 664-5180.
Emanuel Medical Center is a not-for-profit, community-based Christian hospital. Its 403-bed multi-level medical campus includes a 209-bed acute care hospital, a 145-bed skilled nursing facility and a 49-bed assisted living facility. It provides emergency, critical care, pediatric, cardiovascular services, cancer diagnosis and treatment, women's health services, surgery, and hospice services.
For more information, to search for a doctor by specialty or location, or for an online symptom-checker, visit www.emanuelmedicalcenter.org.