Greenbrae Family’s Gift will fund major improvements to Marin General Hospital’s Emergency Department

GREENBRAE, CA — A $2.89 million donation has jump-started a plan to expand and upgrade Marin General Hospital's Emergency Department (ED). The first phase of the project is expected to start in May and it will be completed by July, 2011.

The donation, one of the largest in the hospital's history, comes from the Schultz family, which has a long history of supporting the hospital through contributions that have - improved the current ED, the birthing center, breast imaging center and the Marin Cancer Institute, among others.

Niels Schultz Jr., who died in 2008, was a major advocate for new technologies for the hospital. A few years ago he funded the linear accelerator for the Marin Cancer Institute. This latest gift for the ED will expand his legacy. The project will not only significantly increase the patient triage area in the ED from one station to six, but will also upgrade the available technology, adding a CT Scanner and bringing the MRI system inside the ED.

Dr. Jim Dietz, medical director of the ED, said, "The Emergency Department Staff and Physicians are very appreciative of the support of the Schultz family. Without a doubt, improving our access to CT and MRI scanning represents a significant improvement in patient safety. Getting images quickly will cut the time to treatment and provide a back-up should one CT be out of commission. In life-threatening emergencies, the time savings that we anticipate can make a difference."

Because the demand for CT scans has grown so rapidly, Dietz said, having just one scanner-located some distance from the ED-has created a bottleneck. "When our ED was designed, no one could have foreseen how important this technology would become for many conditions, and as demand has surpassed capacity, our ED has been impacted," said Dietz. "Adding another CT scanner will make a big difference."

The expansion of the triage area into what is now the waiting room may be felt most by patients with less severe maladies, who often are forced to wait while more critical patients' problems are addressed. "The notion that emergency rooms are only for victims of a shooting, a serious accident, or heart attack patients is antiquated," said Dietz. "We cover a broad spectrum of acute care needs. Someone with a torn muscle, smashed finger or troubling cough may not be able to wait to see their own doctor during business hours. This project will assure that patients are able to access the level of care needed without enduring a long wait."

In addition to the expanded patient triage area, the project will include creating a separate waiting space with a specially designed pediatric section and a room equipped specifically for pediatric emergency care.

The Schultz family played a pioneering development role in Marin - in the mid 1940's- and then made the county their permanent home. Niels Schultz Jr. served in several volunteer positions at the hospital, eventually becoming Chairman of the Hospital Board. His family has remained committed to supporting the hospital.

"We are immensely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of the Schultz family," said Marin General Hospital CEO, Lee Domanico. "They have consistently provided leadership and financial support for improvements over many decades. No other family is so synonymous with Marin General Hospital. This latest donation will make a big difference in the experience and care of our emergency patients."

Ann Otter, Chair of the Marin General Hospital Foundation Board, said, "Among other things this is a tremendous endorsement of our Board and new hospital administration. This truly gives us the impetus to move forward with our vision of becoming one of the finest community hospitals in the country."

"My grandparents, my parents and my entire family have continued to recognize the importance this hospital has to the Marin community," said Andrea Schultz. "They felt it was important to keep the hospital on the cutting edge of technology in order to serve the community in the best possible way and continue to attract the best medical staff possible. The ED project is exactly the kind of project my father would have been proud to support."

The construction is scheduled to take place in three phases, starting with the installation of a handicap access ramp for what will be the new ED entrance. That project will begin in mid-May and will be completed in July. The second phase, which includes construction of a family waiting area and a rapid evaluation area, will begin in late June. The final phase, the build-out of the MRI and CT areas, starts in early 2012 and is expected to be completed that summer.