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Hospital foundation hopes to raise $5 million for state-of-the-art equipment

Building a new hospital is expensive. In Mercy Medical Center Merced's case, it's going to take about $257 million to get that building on G Street in North Merced open by 2010.

But those millions won't give local physicians the state-of-the-art equipment that they want, and that's where the Mercy Foundation comes in.

The foundation has set a goal of raising $5 million for the new hospital, and last week the foundation presented the hospital with a $1 million check.

"We have raised a total of almost $2.4 million to date," said Barry McAuley, co-chairman of the new hospital's capital campaign.

That money has come almost exclusively from the internal phase of the fundraising. The employees at Mercy had a goal of raising about $350,000, but instead raised more than $700,000. Board members of the foundation and the medical center have pledged more than $800,000 and the volunteers at the hospital have pledged $250,000

The physicians at Mercy have also been helpful, McAuley said. They have made pledges totaling more than $515,000, and their campaign has just begun.

And the community has already started to give. About $75,000 has already been raised in gifts from Merced residents.

McAuley is co-chairing the campaign along with Bob Ayers. The members of the campaign include John Abbate, Walt Adams, John Bankson, Dr. Hanimareddy Lakireddy, and community members.

Ayers said that this is one of the most important fund-raising activities he has ever been involved in.

"We are building a 21st century hospital that will serve as our community's primary health care provider for at least 40 years," Ayers said.

McAuley said that he believes the community will come through with the entire amount needed by the campaign. "Four million is a lot of money. But it's not much compared to the total cost of the new hospital," he said.

The hospital is scheduled to open to patients in early 2010. It will replace the hospital's current building in South Merced. The new hospital will have 185 beds, compared to the current hospital with 174 beds. At buildout, in about 20 years, the hospital is expected to have 435 beds available for patients.

"Our goal is to have this $5 million by next June," McAuley said. "We really want to fast track and make it happen as soon as possible."

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or