Community Regional trauma and burn centers open

Early on April 17, as the emergency room was closing at University Medical Center and the Level 1 trauma designation was switching over to Community Regional Medical Center, the downtown hospital flipped the lights on signs recognizing two donor-investors whose generosity helped make the move possible.

The Table Mountain Rancheria Trauma Center and Leon S. Peters Burn Center signs on the west side of Community Regional were uncovered and lit up for the first time around dawn. Within hours of the sign lighting, three helicopters had landed on the roof of the building to bring critical trauma patients to the new center. And the Peters Burn Center was busy too, with nine of its 10 beds being filled.

“That’s a lot of satisfaction,” said Pete P. Peters, president of the Leon S. Peters Foundation, when he heard the burn center was nearly full less than 24 hours after it opened. “It’s great for our community here. I know in the future people are going to see how much we need it and benefit from it.”

The newly named Leon S. Peters Burn Center joins the Leon S. Peters Rehabilitation Center on the Community Regional campus. Both are named in honor of the late Fresno industrialist, philanthropist and longtime chairman of Community Medical Centers’ board of trustees. Leon’s reputation was that of a man who believed in hard work and giving back. The foundation bearing his name made the first donation in 2001 toward construction of the trauma critical care building.

And $10 million from the Table Mountain Rancheria tribe ultimately helped complete that building and transition services from UMC to Community Regional’s new facility. The gift was the largest in the state and nation ever made to health care by a tribe. Many of the Table Mountain Rancheria tribal members grew up without the basics of electricity, indoor plumbing – or ready access to health care.

It was an easy decision to increase health care access for others and to help make the Valley’s regional medical center even better, said tribal chairperson Leanne Walker-Grant.

“Table Mountain’s unprecedented gift literally saved lives and will continue to do so,” said Rob Saroyan, vice president of development at Community.

This story was reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at