On Dec. 15, Sister Gerard Earls, CCVI, a civic leader and advocate for Long Beach’s underserved members, was honored by the Long Beach City Council for her 16 years of service to the health and welfare of the community.

As vice president of Mission Integration for Dignity Health-St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach since 1999, Sister Gerard has been a tireless champion of the medically underserved and has overseen the organization’s community benefit program, which provided more than $35 million in patient financial assistance, community health improvement services and unreimbursed costs of caring for patients in 2015 alone.

“Sister Gerard is an inspiration, and the embodiment of service and devotion to community,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “I’m grateful to be able to recognize and honor her contributions to our city.”

Sister Gerard has also led Dignity Health’s commitment to combating human trafficking, including hosting the area’s first educational seminar on the topic in October 2014.

At the hospital, Sister Gerard is also known for Helping Hands, a signature holiday program that collects food, presents and toys for needy families, enabling them to enjoy Christmas. This year, the program served 255 families.

“Her passion for the hospital’s mission and her leadership as an advocate for those less fortunate has been an inspiration for all of us at St. Mary,” said Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of Dignity Health-St. Mary’s. “Everyone at Dignity Health and the City of Long Beach appreciate her energy, enthusiasm and sheer presence.”