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Gong Tolls for 7 Courses and a New Hospital

July 23, 1986|LINK MATHEWSON

People for an Irvine Community Hospital (PICH) held its fourth annual Celebration in White on Saturday night at the Irvine Marriott. The black-tie dinner-dance party attracted at least 300 guests and raised $25,000.

Still, the crowd was noticeably smaller than for last year's gala, when it was announced that American Medical International (AMI) would be building the Irvine Medical Center. PICH president Susan Stahl offered an explanation.

"AMI is building the hospital," Stahl said. "Money raised at the annual gala no longer goes toward the building of the hospital. So people just don't understand what PICH is going to have to do." Later, at the microphone, she said, "We see ourselves as putting all the extras on, bringing to the hospital that something special that only nonprofit volunteers and organizations can bring."

Among those extras will be health fair expos, televised parenting seminars, stop-smoking clinics, preschool wellness programs, skin cancer screenings, "play well" seminars for youth athletic leagues and health and wellness counseling.

Following an elaborate poolside feast of hors d'oeuvres, the sound of a gong beckoned guests to a seven-course dinner in the ballroom.

Before the entree was served, photos of guests taken during the reception were flashed on a screen along with names of the gala committee, underwriting committee, underwriters and the PICH board of directors. Judy Cristiano served as co-chairman of the event with her husband, Robert.

PICH founder David Baker, who is now board chairman of the medical center and an Irvine city councilman, introduced building project director John Gaffney of Omaha. According to Gaffney, the groundbreaking for the hospital will take place the last week in October; the opening is set for "approximately" Sept. 1, 1988.

Although AMI suffered its first quarterly loss--$82 million--for the three months ending in February, according to The Times, and admissions and occupancy rates at major hospital chains have fallen to an all-time low, AMI officials remain optimistic.

Dr. Marvin Goldberg, who will run AMI's Eastern Division in Washington, said that for Irvine, with no hospital, "85,000 people and growing," the new facility will be a draw because of new programs such as those dealing with reproductive medicine and women's health.

Architect James Pirdy said the hospital will be on Sand Canyon Avenue between the Santa Ana and San Diego freeways on land donated by the Irvine Co. The first phase will be a 177-bed hospital at a cost of $35 million; the projected overall cost is $90 million, with a master plan calling for 500 beds.

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