“We’re really excited this day has arrived,” said Dr. Gordon Alexander, president and chief executive officer of Children's Hospital Central California. He stood before a crowd of longtime supporters on a stage set in the Hospital’s parking lot across from the brand new ambulance bay. After a few brief introductions, he welcomed everyone to the “necessary and appropriate opening” of the Hospital’s 60,000-square-foot addition.
Dr. Alexander spoke of the expanded emergency department, with 11 additional private rooms and two dedicated entrances. “Treating patients quickly will no longer be a challenge,” he said. Dr. Alexander mentioned the increased MRI and other medical imaging capacity, the four new surgical suites, and the addition of eight beds to our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). “This is the kind of thing that makes us special,” he said of the expanded PICU. “We now have 42 beds for critically ill and injured children.”
The $66 million expansion is part of a larger $87 million project included in the Hospital’s long-range plan. “For nearly 60 years we’ve been blessed by support,” said Dr. Alexander. “People who give to Children’s are solution seekers.” He thanked Paramount Farms for providing the “lead gift” of $4 million that made the expansion possible. He also acknowledged Bill and Linda Smittcamp for their leadership role in the fundraising campaign, and called them “incredibly talented problem solvers.”
Bill Smittcamp took the podium next and recalled the day Children’s Hospital opened its doors in Madera. “The ambulance came with the first patient on August 30, 1998 at one minute past midnight,” he said. Smittcamp shared the Hospital’s vision to continue its growth, and challenged fellow philanthropists to join him in doubling their gifts to the Hospital. “It doesn’t always take large gifts,” he said. “It also takes the small gifts. It takes all the people out there selling newspapers for a buck a piece.”
Jessica Aronoff, director of philanthropy for Roll Global, parent company of Paramount Farms, also knows the power of many small gifts combining to make a large contribution. “Our support of Children's Hospital Central California first came about through employee giving,” she said. The final speaker at the ceremony, Aronoff gestured to the impressive structure behind her. “We couldn’t be prouder to have Paramount Farms’ name on this building,” she said.
Aronoff explained the role employees played in bringing about the donation. “The employees get to decide how to make their contribution,” she said. Every year without fail a significant percentage of them choose Children’s Hospital. Total employee giving to Children’s was $150,000 last year, given in small amounts by large numbers of employees. “This giving represented a quarter of all employee gifts throughout the Central Valley,” Aronoff said. It was the widespread support from employees living in various towns and communities in Children's service area that convinced Paramount Farms to invest additional funds in the Hospital.
The event concluded with guided tours of the new expansion. George the Giraffe led the way, pulling a signature red wagon with former patient, Carter Williams, aboard. Visitors heard stories from local artists whose artwork decorates the walls, and saw the state-of-the-art facilities that will soon be occupied.
“The staff is the one thing you won’t see today,” said Dr. Alexander just prior to the start of the tours. “But they’ll be here when the kids arrive.” Until then, Paramount Farms Plaza stands ready.
To see the beautiful new expansion for yourself, take a video tour now.