There is a welcome benefit to opening a new state-of-the-art hospital that certainly bodes well for the community served by the facility --- in this case, the greater Santa Maria Valley.During a tour March 7 of the $218 million Marian Regional Medical Center following its dedication ceremony, the hospital’s chief of staff, Dr. Mark Juretic, paused to reflect, with thanks, on what the future of health care for the growing region will look like as a result of the new hospital.

“You go through ups and downs in recruiting good people --- doctors, nurses, technicians and so on,” noted the internal medicine specialist, a parishioner at St. Louis de Montfort Church several miles south of Marian. 

“But in the past year, the recruiting process has been a lot easier for us as we neared completion. We’ve got a lot of young, hardworking physicians telling us, ‘I’ve moving my practice to Santa Maria,’ because they are excited about what this hospital offers.”

As the community is discovering, through a series of tours this month prior to the anticipated mid-April opening. Located adjacent to the 45-year-old Marian Medical Center less than a mile east of Highway 101, the new Marian Regional Medical Center is a 235,000-square-foot, 191-bed facility whose features include a 21-bed Newborn ICU, an expanded Emergency Department and critical care unit, private patient rooms throughout and an abundance of state-of-the-art technology.

The hospital represents “a new chapter in the legacy of care and compassion” provided by the Sisters of St. Francis who founded Marian’s predecessor facility, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital, in 1940, said Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), the hospital’s corporate parent.

But Dean and other speakers at the March 7 dedication pointed out that quality health care is “about much more than a building and technology. What makes health care happen is leadership and great employees.”

Charles Cova, president and CEO of the hospital and Dignity Health Central Coast Service Area, said the new features would combine with “our dedicated, quality personnel” in providing “a healing environment” for all who require Marian’s services. 

The spiritual aspect of health care was echoed by Sister Patricia Rayburn, provincial minister of the Sisters of St. Francis, who was delighted that the hospital’s chapel will include stained glass windows preserved and restored from the community’s motherhouse in Redwood City.

And while she was gratified that a nine-year delay before the start of construction turned out to be a blessing --- “We were able to employ many construction workers during an economic down time” --- she emphasized that health care begins with those who practice it. 

“Practicing our core values every single day --- dignity, collaboration, justice, stewardship and excellence --- is essential to serving this community with high quality, affordable health care, especially those who are poor and disenfranchised,” she said.

In his prayer of blessing, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry expressed hope that the new Marian Regional Medical Center would bring “Christ’s healing presence to all who come here. May this always be a place of compassionate care.”

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