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Exterior photo of Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield, CA

Memorial Hospital Announces Multi-Million Dollar Gift to Expand Pediatric Surgical Services at Lauren Small Children’s Center

(Bakersfield, CA - October 13, 2022) Bakersfield Memorial Hospital announced a multi-million dollar gift to expand pediatric surgical services at the hospital’s Lauren Small Children’s Center (LSCC). Designed specifically to meet the complex surgical needs of children, the Pediatric Surgical Suites Project is made possible through the generosity of long-time supporters of Memorial Hospital,  Tuesdy and Kevin Small through their charitable foundation, The Small Miracles Foundation and The Lauren Small Benefit, and Cassie Wright and the Wright Family Foundation.

“For more than a decade, Memorial Hospital has been committed to advancing comprehensive pediatric services here in Kern County, and this visionary commitment will support our ongoing efforts to deliver those services close to home,” said Ken Keller, President and CEO of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. “We are grateful and humbled by the generosity and partnership of the Small family, and the community as a whole. This is an investment in our children’s future that will serve local families for generations to come.”

Along with a $14.8 million Children’s Health Grant, the announcement of this donation will help support the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation’s community-wide philanthropic effort to advance children's services at Memorial Hospital. The Pediatric Surgical Suites Project will include a new 5000 sq ft space with two dedicated pediatric operating rooms, a 6-station pre and post-anesthesia unit (PACU), and a pediatric nurse’s station. The surgical suites will be equipped with leading-edge technology specifically for the treatment of pediatric patients from infants to adolescents. In addition to specially trained nurses and techs,  Memorial Hospital will also recruit two resident pediatric surgeons. 

The Lauren Small Children's Center is named in honor of Lauren Paige Small, a local girl who inspired the community through her brave two-year battle with cancer. In 

2011, the Small Family founded the Center with a $2 million donation and a vision of bringing the first pediatric “hospital-within-a-hospital” to Kern County.

“As Lauren’s legacy, it was vitally important to our family that children in need of a higher level of medical care be able to receive that care here at home without traveling long distances to children’s medical centers in larger cities,” stated Kevin Small, father of Lauren Small and major supporter of LSCC. “The Center has exceeded our expectations and we are honored to continue our support by helping to bring new pediatric surgical capabilities to the community.”

In addition to the $2 million gift from the Small Family and their foundations, philanthropist Cassie Wright has pledged $250 thousand to help make the new pediatric OR a reality. “Lauren’s story is near to my heart.  I want to ensure that her legacy lives on through the expansion of services and programs offered at LSCC,” said Cassie. “As a mother and grandmother, knowing that local families have access to some of the best care available is a blessing.”

The Lauren Small Children's Center is the first comprehensive pediatric program in Kern County and is fully approved by California Children’s Services. The Children’s Center includes the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for Emergency Services, the only dedicated pediatric emergency department between Los Angeles and Madera; a 31-bed Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for premature or seriously ill newborns; an eight-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU); and a 35-bed Pediatric Unit with around the clock in-house pediatricians, known as hospitalists.

Construction is expected to start in early 2023 and should be complete in 2024. The new pediatric ORs will be located adjacent to Memorial’s surgical department and will be easily accessible from the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for Emergency Services.

Learn more about pediatric services at Memorial Hospital by clicking here.


About Dignity Health Memorial Hospital

Dignity Health Memorial Hospital is a 385-bed acute care medical center offering a full range of services including the Sarvanand Heart and Brain Center, Grossman Burn Center at Memorial Hospital, expanded maternity and family care, the Lauren Small Children’s Center including the area’s only dedicated pediatric emergency room, orthopedic services, wound care center, 24-hour emergency care and general/outpatient surgery. Memorial Hospital is a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and is home to the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House and Hope House. A member of CommonSpirit Health, Dignity Health Memorial Hospital is a trusted community partner, serving residents of Bakersfield and Kern County with quality, compassionate care since 1956. Learn more at

Publish date: 

Thursday, October 13, 2022