Monday, January 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Smittcamps Give $1 Million to Neurosciences

Community Medical Centers has received a $1 million gift from Robert E. Smittcamp and the Smittcamp Family Foundation to expand neuroscience services for the San Joaquin Valley. The gift is meant to help expand a vital service line not available elsewhere in the region.

Dinuba farmworker Juan Aquino had life-saving surgery in December 2014 at Community Regional to remove a lesion in his brain. Because Community had a Neuroscience Center of Excellence, the rural hospital that discovered his lesion did have to transfer him far from home to UCSF, Stanford or Cedars Sinai for his care.

20160111-juan-aquino-neuro-patient-256x171-(1).jpg“I understand the critical need for stroke, head trauma and spine care in our region, and the terrific neuroscience program they’re building at Community Regional Medical Center needs to keep growing,” said Bob Smittcamp, chairman and CEO of Lyons Magnus, Co., Inc. in Fresno. “It’s my privilege to support the neuro program because I have confidence in the leadership at Community, and I know they’re creating a truly special medical unit that any of us might need, without a moment’s notice. I hope many others will likewise consider supporting this vital community resource.”

Community Regional in downtown Fresno provides the only Level 1 Trauma Center between Los Angeles and Stockton, and a significant number of trauma cases involve brain and spine injuries. Neuroscience experts on site perform life-saving work around-the-clock.

But not all neuroscience cases are caused by traumatic injuries. Community’s neuroscience program also cares for patients suffering from strokes, brain tumors, spine disorders, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS and epilepsy.

“I’m impressed with Mr. Smittcamp’s leadership and his sincere commitment to help us create a comprehensive, world-class neuroscience center for the region,” said Tim Joslin, Community Medical Centers’ CEO. “We’re investing in state-of-the-art technology, dedicated bed space, and recruitment of top physician specialists to enhance our capabilities.” 

Katie Zenovich, Community’s vice president for corporate development, said the Smittcamp gift is the largest single donation ever directed to the medical center’s neurosciences program and that it comes at a perfect time. “I know many people in our community assume that treatment for complicated neuro cases must occur outside the Valley. But more and more, that’s not true. And this generous investment in our neuro program will prompt others to take note of the medical advancements we’re making.”

For fiscal 2015, Community Regional Medical Center in Downtown Fresno averaged nearly 100 stroke patients a month, with about 48 percent over the age of 65. The facility saw a total of more than 2,400 neurology cases. Since 2013, Community Regional has done more than a third of all the brain surgeries in a seven county area.

Ashlie Day reported this story. Reach her at MedWatchToday@communitymedical.org