With a long history of generously supporting Merced College’s health care programs, Dignity Health/Mercy Medical Center will receive the President’s Medallion during the College’s 5th annual State of the College luncheon on Friday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the gymnasium.

The event, sponsored by the Merced College Foundation, will feature an address to the community from Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli.

“We are honored to recognize Mercy Medical Center for being an outstanding corporate partner, whose financial support has allowed Merced College to expand its nursing programs and provide scholarships to many students over many years,” President Vitelli said.

According to Robert McLaughlin, Dignity Health’s regional communications director, “Dignity Health began as a single hospital founded on the belief that all people deserve medical care, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or circumstances.”

Dignity Health traces its beginnings to the Sisters of Mercy, which was originally founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland in 1831.

“The Sisters of Mercy vowed to serve people who suffered from poverty, sickness, and lack of education,” Mclaughlin said.

In 1854, eight Sisters of Mercy arrived in San Francisco and immediately began caring for residents of a city struck by cholera, typhoid, and influenza. They founded St. Mary's Hospital, now the oldest continuously operating hospital in the city.

Eventually, one facility became many, expanding to serve a rapidly growing population while strengthening its commitment to keeping the human person at the forefront of modern medicine. In 1986, two congregations of the Sisters of Mercy joined their 10 hospitals together, forming Catholic Healthcare West.

“In 2012, we changed our name to Dignity Health to better describe what we stand for,” McLaughin said. “Dignity is something everyone is born with. To us, ‘dignity’ means showing respect for all people by providing excellent care and helping them lead healthy, meaningful lives.”

Mercy Medical Center can also trace its history to the original Merced Community Medical Center, which first opened on East North Bear Creek in 1873 as a small, one-story wooden building. For the next 31 years, the hospital served the county’s sick and less fortunate.

In 1904, a new facility was built on 15th Street, with a new wing added for children and maternity cases in 1939. The hospital continued to grow with the construction of a $1.1 million facility in June 1950. Further additions included an $8.3 million tower in December 1979.  In 1997, Merced County approved for Sutter Health to lease what was then called Sutter Merced Medical Center. The 174-bed acute care facility specialized in intensive care, emergency care, cardiac, obstetric, pediatrics, surgical, diagnostic, and rehabilitative services.

In addition, the local hospital has its roots in Mercy Hospital, which opened in September 1921 after a group of city leaders decided to construct a community hospital.  A community board purchased property in February 1922 and opened a 20-bed facility in 1923.

By 1937, Mercy Hospital had doubled its size. Mercy later became incorporated on December 8, 1948, and a year later was purchased by the Dominican Sisters of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In May 1996, Mercy Hospital joined Catholic Healthcare West. Today, this campus is used as Mercy Outpatient Center with Rehabilitation Services, the hospital’s Foundation office, Health Education, Home Care office, and Medical Records.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health is one of the largest health system in the nation with 400 care sites across a 22-state network, including 39 hospitals – 24 of which are Catholic.

“The mission and values we were founded upon remain the same,” McLaughoin said.  “Through teamwork and innovation, faith and compassion, advocacy and action, we endeavor every day to keep our patients happy, healthy, and whole.”

Individual tickets to the catered lunch are $50.  Table sponsorships for eight guests are $500, and corporate sponsorships are $1,000 for a table of eight.  Table sponsors receive recognition during the event and added benefits are provided to corporate sponsors

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Merced College Foundation at 209.381.6470 or online the PayPal at www.mercedcollegefoundation.org.

For more information, or to reserve your table, contact the Merced College Foundation.