Mercy Medical Center group closes in on funding goal

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comOctober 2, 2012 

— The Mercy Medical Center Foundation is getting closer to its goal of raising $400,000 to bring technology to Merced that will help diagnose some cancers at an earlier stage, and in some cases without surgery.

On Friday, during its "Taste of Merced" event, the foundation raised an additional $63,500, bringing its total to $275,000, according to Executive Director Lisa Wegley. The rest of the money raised in the campaign has come from donors in Merced and a $50,000 gift from the group The Volunteers of Mercy.

Officials hope to wrap up the fundraising campaign at month's end, Wegley said.

The technology, endoscopic ultrasound, allows doctors to get images of a patient's organs, such as the stomach, pancreas, colon and lungs, along with what's outside those structures.

Doctors are able to see beyond the wall of the organ, said Dr. Sunit Patel, who has a private practice in Merced and is the medical director for the intensive care unit and respiratory therapy at Mercy Medical Center. "It gives us more information," he said.

Not only is it used to diagnose cancer, but also lung diseases, Patel said.

The technology will help attract more physicians to the area, Wegley said.

"The younger physicians want to use the latest equipment that they learned how to use in school," she said.

Doctors already in the area, such as Patel, also will have the opportunity to use the technology.

Garth Pecchenino, foundation board chairman who helped coordinate the event, said officials were happy with the turnout. Close to 500 people showed up.

"It was a great event, the community supported us very well," he said.

Wegley credited local businesses that partnered with the foundation to make the event possible.

Fundraising efforts to buy the endoscopic ultrasound began at the beginning of the year, Pecchenino said.

"Mercy Foundation is always very thankful for the support of the community as we work to provide new state-of-the-art equipment that will improve the health of our community," he said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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