This is the season for homecomings, which makes it particularly timely for MedicAlert Foundation to celebrate its return to Turlock.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Turlock Chamber of Commerce was held Friday afternoon at MedicAlert’s new home in Turlock — 101 Lander Ave. The ceremony was attended by MedicAlert CEO Bob Pearson, MedicAlert President and COO Josefina Jervis, members of the MedicAlert Board of Directors and staff and local dignitaries.
“Turlock is the home of the MedicAlert Foundation and we feel like we have come back home,” Pearson said.
Also in attendance was Karry Walker, granddaughter of MedicAlert’s founders Dr. Marion and Chrissie Collins and the daughter of Linda Collins, who was the inspiration behind the Foundation.
Walker said her mother was a tomboy growing up and was out playing with a BB gun one day when she sustained a fairly deep cut to her finger. She was taken to the hospital to get stitches and in the process was given a tetanus shot. Within moments of getting the shot she went into anaphylactic shock and almost died. The incident inspired her parents to start thinking of a method that would let healthcare providers know if a patient had an allergy or some other medical need that could hamper their treatment if not addressed properly and swiftly. What they came up with were the engraved medical bracelets that are now worn around the world.
The MedicAlert emblem is now globally recognized by first responders and emergency personnel, who connect with MedicAlert’s 24/7 Emergency Response Team for a member’s health record.
In the beginning, the couple ran the Foundation from their living room in Turlock, using a big ledger to keep track of the individuals and their health concerns that had signed up for the burgeoning service. As the years went on the lives the Foundation would touch grew to cover the globe.
Walker recalled her grandmother would have a large bowl on the mantel that would fill with holiday cards send from all over the world.
“She would sit on the sofa and open each one and read it and usually make a little comment about how nice that was,” Walker said.
MedicAlert remained a part of the Turlock community until 2015, when the Foundation moved to Salida. It returned to Turlock this year when it moved into 101 Lander Avenue, a location that was once a bank and then a county building.
The Turlock headquarters is where all the medical bracelets are made and engraved, which is a job Cindy Pacheco has been doing for the last 40 of the 43 years she has worked for MedicAlert. Pacheco was selected as the recipient of the Foundation’s first ever Linda Collins Award, given to an employee that embodies the spirit of MedicAlert’s mission.
“She always comes to work with the biggest smile,” Jervis said.
Pacheco was unaware she would be getting an award and said the recognition “touched [her] heart.”