VENTURA COUNTY: Couple Leaves Independent Hospitals $5.6 Million
"In unprecedented acts of generosity," a Ventura County couple donated $5 million to Ventura's Community Memorial Hospital and nearly $650,000 to Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the lawyer managing the deceased couple's finances, Ord and Laura Toomey left the majority of their estate to the "county's two remaining independent hospitals," earning them praise from hospital officials and members of the community. During recent years, Community Memorial has "struggled with its bottom line," and now barely turns a profit on its $110 million budget. However, the donation prompted the hospital to outline plans for a new 18-bed newborn intensive care unit. Michael Bakst, executive director of Community Memorial, expressed gratitude for the gift, the most substantial during his 20-year tenure with the hospital. Santa Paula has similarly "struggled to stay in business" over recent years, as most patients turned to managed care plans. The Times notes that the 60-bed facility, the county's smallest hospital, endured $75,000 in operating losses on its $13 million budget for the year, but recovered $1.2 million in investment returns to balance its budget. Santa Paula officials will combine the gift with an additional $250,000 donation to fund "a variety of building improvements, including a new radiology lab, a new roof or partial payment on seismic retrofitting." The unsolicited and unexpected gifts are evidence of the community's support for the independent hospitals, said William Greene, chief administrator for Santa Paula. "It's commentary on the community support we've depended on from the start," he said (Kelley, 8/27). Click Ventura for previous coverage of the county.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.