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Legacy of support for Emanuel comes to an end
A member of Emanuel Medical Centers Cardiovascular Services Department demonstrates the hospitals new Toshiba Infinix Interventional Angiography System on a hospital volunteer in 2010. Emanuel's new cath lab is just one service made possible through the fundraising efforts of Legacy Circle. - photo by Journal file photo

The community of Turlock has long had a reputation for generosity. This can be seen in its annual support of nonprofit organizations that feed the homeless, provide toys for children at Christmas and social services for all in need. And for the past 15 years, one of the largest philanthropic endeavors undertaken by the residents of Turlock and its surrounding communities has been Legacy Circle.

Through Legacy Circle fundraising efforts, the community raised $22 million for Emanuel Medical Center and helped expand healthcare services in Turlock with the Mary Stuart Rogers Birthing Center, the Emanuel Cancer Center and, most recently, the Emanuel Cardiac Cath and Intervention Lab.

With the pending sale of Emanuel Medical Center, a nonprofit ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church, to Tenet Healthcare, an investor-owned hospital operator, Legacy Circle has been retired.

When Emanuel decided to stop Legacy Circle in 2012, the pledge campaign was in the middle of a five-year goal to raise $5 million for cardiac services at Emanuel. More than $2 million was raised in two years specifically for cardiac services. A big part of that effort was Turlock couple Jeani and John Ferrari, who in 2010, pledged to contribute $500,000 if the community raised $1 million.

The Ferraris will follow through with their pledge, despite the pending sale of the hospital.

"The only constant in life is change," said John Ferrari. "While we are mildly disappointed, it doesn't change our feeling about the efforts we made and it certainly remains a commendable feat for the people of Turlock."

Emanuel CEO John Sigsbury said all the funds raised through Legacy Circle — and more — have already been spent on two new cardiac operating suites that will cost nearly $4.5 million to build and another $2.5 million to equip. The operating suites are in the midst of construction and are set to open in October or November.

"We wouldn't be where we are today [without Legacy Circle]," said Emanuel CEO John Sigsbury. "I'm proud of how the community has supported us."

If the sale of Emanuel to Tenet moves forward — it still has to be approved by the state Attorney General — a nonprofit foundation could be created to handle any profit made by the sale. That foundation would be responsible for disbursing funds for the benefit of improving the health of those in the community. This type of foundation was created in the San Jose area in 1996 from the sale of three local nonprofit hospitals. The Health Trust funds initiatives that focus on healthy living and disease prevention, including Meals on Wheels and AIDS services, in the Silicon Valley area.

If a similar foundation was created by the sale of Emanuel, former Legacy Circle supporters could be tapped to oversee the new organization.

"If it's a foundation that benefits the population of Turlock , Jeani and I would certainly consider that," Ferrari said.