For nearly a century, White Memorial hospital and medical center in Boyle Heights has been on a mission to provide quality care in a eastside community where health care resources have lagged and in some cases been completely missing, and they have been able to accomplish this goal by building partnerships with others willing to generously contribute to their mission.
On Sunday, the White Memorial Medical Center Charitable Foundation raised over $560,000—a record amount—during their annual awards gala. The event also marked the beginning of White Memorial Medical Center’s 2013 Centennial Celebration. Proceeds from the event will benefit a variety of services at the hospital and medical center located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
“White Memorial Medical Center has a fierce determination to face obstacles, a love for serving its community and a faith in the divine role in healing and in advancing the mission of the hospital,” said White Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Beth Zachary in a written statement. “I’m confident that the shoulders we stand on are strong enough to take us through whatever the future holds — as long as we remain true to our mission and values,” she said.
Highlighting the hospitals upcoming centennial, David Lizárraga, President & CEO of TELACU/MILLINEIUM and Chair of the White Memorial Medical Center Charitable Foundation Board of Directors, said the hospital not only records more than 122,000 patient visits each year, it is an economic engine in the region.
“At a time when job creation is so vital, last year, together with the physicians who operate their own offices, and the jobs generated by construction, White Memorial created 6,500 jobs for our community,” Lizárraga said.
A number of White Memorial supporters were recognized at the gala for their efforts to further White Memorial’s mission. Lizárraga’s wife Priscilla, Senior Vice President of the TELACU Educational Foundation was honored as the 2012 Woman of the Year. The Foundation partners with Rio Hondo College to provide scholarships and train nurses in the East Los Angeles community.
During the TELACU Foundation’s 10 years in existence, over 100 nurses have graduated from the program and been placed at White Memorial, according to Zachary.
“Very early on, [Priscilla] shared with me that her mother went back to school when she was 41 years old to take nursing classes and help in providing for her family, and it is important to her that she extends this opportunity to others,’” Zachary said, noting Priscilla’s efforts to train more nurses. “I know one other thing about Priscilla: She is a strong woman – but humble – and will give the credit for the Foundation’s success to her husband, David, and son, Michael along with Onieda and her three beautiful granddaughters. And to be fair, she’s right. TELACU Industries – its foundation and collection of businesses – really is a family affair. Today, there are three generations of Lizarragas that lead the business. This, in itself is an amazing accomplishment and speaks to Pricilla’s success as a businesswoman, wife, mother and grandmother,” Zachary said.
Priscilla told EGP it was an honor to receive the award and noted that women have played a very important role at WMMC over the years.
Other honorees at Sunday’s fundraiser included LAUSD School Board President Mónica García who was named Community Leader of the Year; Sen. Kevin De Leon (22nd District) who was recognized as Civic Leader of the Year, and WMMC Vice President of Construction & Facilities Al Deininger received the Volunteer of the Year award. Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (45th District), US Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (34th District) and House Speaker John Pérez (46th District) were also recognized for supporting the safety-net hospital over the years. Pérez did not attend.
Zachary noted Roybal-Allard’s district will change in January due to redistricting but said she will always be “our Congresswoman!”
“Tonight, I just want to say how special you are to us. Our Diabetes Center, and affiliated Research program on Diabetes started with your leadership and support. You have accomplished so much,” Zachary said.
While the foundation’s gala took a look back at its past and the support it has received from a variety of sources, it was also a time to look into the future of the nearly century-old medical center and hospital’s continued mission to provide state-of-the art technology and care to its patients.
Proceeds from the gala will go toward establishing a fully equipped Simulation Laboratory for physician and nurse training at the Boyle Heights hospital and for special incubators for fragile premature babies.
“A Simulation Center will allow our physicians and nurses to hone their critical thinking and clinical skills with zero chance of patient injury. It allows us to provide healthcare of the highest caliber while ensuring maximum safety for our patients and community,” said WMMC Chief Nurse Executive Lynne Whaley.
Dr. Robert Teff, director of Neonatal Intensive Care, said the Giraffe Omni beds serve as a sophisticated incubator for babies weighing about a pound and whose body’s ability to conserve heat is so immature that left at room temperature, the baby could die of cold exposure in a few hours.
“It provides air that is warmed precisely to the patient’s needs, as determined by a skin temperature sensor accurate to within three-tents of one degree. It provides microprocessor controlled humidity up to 95% to reduce the loss of water through the skin and respiratory tract,” he said.
Tefft explained that in an emergency, the Giraffe transforms to an open procedure platform with full patient access from three sides. The bed can also be lowered for easy access to a mother in a gurney or a wheelchair. WMMC wants to equip one-quarter of patient care stations with Giraffe Omni Beds, he added.
Among the gala attendees were five-year-olds Ana and Freddy, premature twins who were born at the WMMC weighing only thee pounds each. The twins, cared for by Dr. Tefft in the hospital’s WMMC Neonatology Intensive Care Unit (NICU), not only survived but they are thriving. They show no signs of disability or long-term effects, according to WMMC.
Over the next twelve months, White Memorial will host a series of events open to the public to celebrate its 100-year mission in Los Angeles.