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Marian Regional Medical Center Acquires ECMO Technology to Treat COVID-19 Patients with Life-Threatening Conditions

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Technology made possible by a generous donation in honor of Louis and Melissa Meza

SANTA MARIA, CA – March 2, 2021 – Due to the generous philanthropic support of the Mark and Dorothy Smith Family Foundation, Marian Regional Medical Center has secured the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) medical technology for critically-ill COVID-19 patients and others experiencing life-threatening conditions. Marian’s ECMO is now treating patients and is the only hospital between the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles with this advanced life-saving equipment, mitigating the need to travel outside the area for care. 

The ECMO medical equipment is similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used in open heart surgery as it pumps and oxygenates a patient's blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. When patients receive ECMO treatment, blood flows through tubing to an artificial lung in the machine that adds oxygen and takes out carbon dioxide; then the blood is warmed to body temperature and pumped back into the body. Marian’s advanced cardiac program along with in-house critical care specialists are essential for providing this service.  

Inspired by Santa Maria COVID-19 survivors Louis and Melissa Meza, the Mark & Dorothy Smith Family Foundation Directors recognized that the region’s most critically-ill COVID-19 patients in need of ECMO treatment were being transferred out of the area to receive this life-saving procedure. As reported in the local media, Melissa Meza experienced severe complications due to COVID-19 which required various treatments and an emergency transfer to a Santa Monica hospital to receive the life-saving ECMO treatment. As such, the Mark & Dorothy Smith Family Foundation graciously made a significant donation in honor of Louis and Melissa Meza to fund the acquisition of Marian’s ECMO medical technology.  

"The legacy of our parents, Mark and Dorothy Smith, was one of giving back to the community that was so good to them,” states Craig and Cameron Smith, Directors of the Mark and Dorothy Smith Family Foundation. 

“Our parents loved living and working in Santa Maria. Their outlook on life was incredibly positive and they were always looking for new ways they could help improve the quality of life for all who live here.  It is our honor and privilege to continue their legacy. The past year has been the most challenging time in health care for our country. When we heard about the strength, courage and perseverance of Louis and Melissa Meza in their fight against the coronavirus, we reached out to Marian Regional Medical Center to find out how we could help. That journey resulted in Marian developing the new ECMO Program and the first of many successful treatments has now begun. Hopefully, many more lives will be saved. We will do our best to continue to support for members of our community. We appreciate and applaud all Marian is doing to end this pandemic.”

In addition to the ECMO medical technology, the Mark & Dorothy Smith Family Foundation partnered with Marian Regional Medical Center throughout the pandemic to support vital community services, patients, and medical professionals, including: a food pantry to serve vulnerable homebound patients during the pandemic, iPad technology for patients to communicate with loved ones when visitation was limited, and meals for staff throughout the year. Throughout their legacy of generosity, the Mark and Dorothy Smith Family Foundation has been instrumental in supporting Marian’s philanthropic needs, and most recently awarded more than $325,702 in grant funding in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the term ‘health care heroes’ continues to be used to describe Marian’s clinical providers, however the Smith family members are undeniable health care heroes as their investment is literally saving lives and is a profound example of their family’s legacy of generosity,” explains Sue Andersen, President & CEO, Marian Regional Medical Center. “The Smith family’s significant donation is a true blessing as it is allowing our organization to transform both vital and newly developed programs for Marian’s coronavirus response effort.”

Mark Smith, a successful construction entrepreneur and real estate developer, spent his life building homes and commercial properties in Santa Maria. He and his wife, Dorothy, invested their lives to building the future of heath care for the Santa Maria Valley. 


About Marian Regional Medical Center
Marian Regional Medical Center is a technologically advanced, 191-bed facility that provides safe, quality care.  Marian has been a recipient of the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence and was also named among the Top 5% in the Nation for clinical outcomes by Healthgrades. Marian is designated a STEMI Receiving Center in Santa Barbara County, and is designated a Level III Trauma Center by Santa Barbara County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency. The facility has achieved prestigious designation as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission for advanced, comprehensive care for stroke patients. Our cancer care program is accredited as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, and received the Outstanding Achievement Award. The campus houses a comprehensive perinatology/ neonatology program, providing specialized care to the tiniest of patients.



Publish date: 

Tuesday, March 02, 2021