Story updated at 12:20 p.m. March 14:
French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo has received a $5.5 million donation from Peter Oppenheimer, former chief financial officer of Apple, and his wife Mary Beth.
The largest gift in the history of the hospital will be used to expand and modernize emergency services.
“Built in 1972, the emergency care center was designed to hold about 10 patients a day; it now serves around 80 emergency patients a day,” said FHMC President and CEO Alan Iftiniuk. “The Oppenheimer’s gift will be put toward achieving our goal to update and transform the care that patients are able to receive at one of the top hospitals in the nation.”
The expansion project will be completed in two stages, so as not to interrupt patient care. The first stage adds 8,600 square feet to the hospital, more than doubling the space of the existing emergency department. When both phases are completed, the new emergency services center will be housed in approximately 12,600 square feet of new or fully renovated space.
The new building will feature 18 private treatment rooms compared to the five bed ward and semi-private rooms existing today. The chief architect is Brian Starr, who designed the hospital’s education center that opened in 2016.
Specialized rooms will be designated for critical care, infectious disease isolation, pediatrics and orthopedic emergencies as well as fast track beds for patients with less urgent conditions. The project will also provide a sizable waiting area for families, triage rooms and a centralized nurse’s station with sophisticated monitoring capabilities.
“Not only will we be able to provide high end imaging services, but we will also reduce wait times for patients who are in a state of emergency,” said Dr. Juan Reynoso, director of emergency medicine.
The new emergency department will be named the Oppenheimer Family Center for Emergency Medicine at French Hospital Medical Center.
The total cost of both project phases is estimated at $13 million. Ground breaking for the first phase is expected to occur in spring of 2018 with construction expected to be completed in about a year.
In the second phase, the existing emergency department will be renovated to accommodate ancillary support functions and will accommodate state-of-the-art medical equipment, including a dedicated low-dose 64-slice CT scanner and X-ray and ultrasound machines.
“This incredibly generous gift will transform the way we deliver emergency services in our community,” said Iftiniuk. “We are deeply grateful to Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer for their passionate dedication to community health care. This gift will truly save lives, and will benefit our patients for generations to come.”
• Contact Katie Swalm at [email protected]