Monday, January 11, 2016 3:27 PM

A Lasting Thank You to Our Friend, Ralph Garcia

Ralph Garcia, a remarkable friend of Community, sadly left this world on December 20, 2015. But he left his community and his Community Medical Centers a better place because of his love and commitment for our mission and those we serve. I had the privilege of knowing and working with Ralph and would like to leave you all with one of my favorite memories of his giving spirit.

Ralph P. Garcia

A local boy, Ralph was born in Del Rey and graduated from Selma High School and Reedley College. After serving in the United States Army in Germany, he returned to Selma and found a desire to become involved in many civic causes – including serving as Mayor for the City of Selma. He also held the position of director of community development for Fresno’s Economic Development Corporation.

But it’s Ralphs work on Community Medical Centers Board of Trustees and on the prestigious California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) I’d like to share with you. While he knew Community was doing everything humanly possible to provide the best to patients and their families, he felt it deserved some outside support and help.

My role then and now is to help connect donors to a need or cause in Community that could use some financial help and put those dollars to work in order to help our patients get the best care possible. Together, Ralph and I explored areas in Fresno Heart & Surgical, Clovis Community, and Community Regional to see just where he and CHCF could lend a hand … and boy did they!
Former employee Bruce Eliason with Ralph Garcia.
Just a few areas they touched include the 2001 Burn and Trauma Building Campaign, Deran Koligian Care Center, Diabetes Services, Neuroscience Services, Radin Breast Care Center and Community Connections. His goal was to help boost patient education and outreach efforts on chronic diseases that plague the Valley, especially the underserved population.

Ralph – with every one of those gifts listed above – felt the joy of giving and making a difference. Ah, but none like my favorite story, and I know it was his favorite too. It’s one about a gift he and CHCF awarded to help Community meet the complex communication needs of the special population we serve downtown.

In 2008, Bruce Kinder, then VP Academic Affairs/Interim Director Emergency Department told me about great need in Community Regional’s ED Department. It became apparent to Bruce that there were many language barriers and access to better interpreter services was badly needed. With 30% of Community Regional’s ED patients non-English speaking, he was looking for a way to help them and family members with medical-related questions in their native language such as Spanish, Hindi, Hmong, Punjabi, Farsi, Vietnamese and Filipino.
Jan Paul & Ralph Garcia at golf tournament fundraiser for Community.
Bruce identified a new high-tech medical interpreter system – Health Care Interpreters Network (HCIN) – that was being used in only about 9 California counties at the time. Bruce knew it was costly but just what Community Regional needed. Ralph agreed and said given the nature of the diverse multi-cultural/multi-language population we serve, he was more than happy to approach CHCF and request help.

To me, it feels like yesterday when Ralph and I sat outside in UCSF’s garden amphitheater just waiting to tell Bruce the good news as he walked up. I am not sure whose smile was bigger – Ralph’s or Bruce’s when the news of the $170,000 plus grant was shared.  Soon, doctors and staff would be able to better connect non-English-speaking guests with interpreters in 170 different languages. An improved sense of comfort, dignity and overall better experience was about to begin…

“In my career, I’m going to look back at this as one of the high points in my community involvement.” – Ralph P. Garcia, August 21, 2009.

Can’t thank you enough, friend.

Jan Paul, Sr. Stewardship Officer