How businesses and individuals play a part in making quality care available in their communities Featured

9:01pm EDT March 31, 2011
How businesses and individuals play a part in making quality care available in their communities

As nonprofit facilities continue to face increasing financial challenges and uncertainties, executives are tapping and expanding their philanthropic activities to provide funding for vital construction projects, advanced health education, critical patient programs and unique medical technologies.

To learn more, Smart Business turned to Cecilia Belew, president of Saddleback Memorial Foundation in Laguna Hills and San Clemente, and Paul Stimson, director of Orange Coast Memorial Foundation in Fountain Valley.

Why is philanthropy so important?

Nonprofit hospitals typically began when concerned citizens raised funds to ensure local access to high-quality health care. Over the years, donors continued their support, helping add the programs, services and facilities necessary to keep pace with medical advances and innovations.

These are your community hospitals, and your philanthropy makes a difference.  Even in difficult times, we are witnessing a larger number of philanthropic friends making decisions based on the fundamental reason people give — to make a difference and ensure the best health care is available close to home. To protect and enhance this kind of care, ongoing philanthropic investments are critical.

How does it impact hospitals?

Philanthropy elevates a life of success to a life of significance. We see people making that choice every day: children raising $12 for cancer research through a lemonade stand, individuals that fund charitable trusts and annuities making outright major gifts, board members who provide expert leadership, the hundreds of volunteers and organizations that sponsor fund-raising events. Many choose to fund endowments that provide sustainability to critical patient programs and continuing medical education.

Every gift we receive has a story. All stories begin with a philanthropic friend, continue through the work of our health care team and then impact the lives of our patients and our communities. Every week, premature babies are saved, elderly patients comforted, illnesses diagnosed, bones mended and lives saved — thanks to the generous philanthropy of individuals, corporations and private foundations in our caring communities.

Philanthropic donors and organizations are vital partners in achieving success at Orange Coast Memorial and Saddleback Memorial Medical Centers. This is especially true during a time when hospitals are challenged in securing the newest technology and in expanding programs to meet the needs of the community. Thanks to the countless philanthropic friends, our hospitals are able to add the programs, services and facilities necessary to keep pace with the latest advances. And all our philanthropic friends appreciate the value of having extraordinary patient care today and in the future.

What are some examples?

Our decades of offering compassionate, quality care are based on the generosity and expertise of extraordinary people. Orange Coast Memorial Foundation supported development of the new six-story Patient Care Pavilion that provides access to some of the most respected physicians and advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities for cancer, surgery, obesity and imaging services at Orange Coast Memorial. Recent gifts are helping fund the new cardiac rehabilitation center, as well as nursing education.

Saddleback Memorial began when Leisure World residents, envisioning a world-class hospital in southern Orange County, raised $500,000 and the developer Ross Cortese donated nine acres. Opening in 1974, it was the first community health facility serving the growing Saddleback Valley. Since opening, Saddleback Memorial has received over $200 million in philanthropic gifts. These funds supported construction of Meiklejohn Critical Care Pavilion, the Women’s Hospital and the numerous programs, services and medical technologies at the Laguna Hills and San Clemente locations.

MemorialCare Health System does its share to help our communities. During the last fiscal year, our medical centers provided nearly $150 million in charity care and community benefits. We are also active in our communities, having supported organizations like March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the American Heart Association.

We value the philanthropic funds that are entrusted to us by our donors and grantors. The gifts, grants and bequests given to our foundations help distinguish our hospitals as top medical institutions. We are confident that the philanthropy which built and sustained both Saddleback Memorial and Orange Coast Memorial as well as our many Centers of Excellence will continue, thanks to the commitment of our caring communities.

How can employers help?

We appreciate that businesses continue to leverage their resources to support their communities, even in difficult times. They understand their unique position as corporate citizens in taking a proactive role to making a difference and encouraging their employees to do so as well.

Orange County employers and their work forces help us ensure high-quality health care through a number of philanthropic channels — individual gifts, corporate grants, payroll deductions, endowments, estate and planned gifts, corporate gifts,  in-kind gifts, tributes, fund-raising events, sponsorships and much more. Even as businesses continue to be impacted by an uncertain economy, many of them give back by supplementing charitable giving with longer-term pledges as well as gift commitments.

Cecilia Belew is president of Saddleback Memorial Foundation in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. Paul Stimson is director of Orange Coast Memorial Foundation in Fountain Valley. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit