Scripps Memorial receives $10 million donation

Press Release

Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas has received the largest philanthropic gift in its 45-year history with the donation of $10 million from the Leichtag Family Foundation in honor of Lee and Toni Leichtag.

“There is no greater gift than to save a life, and through the generosity of Lee and Toni Leichtag and the Leichtag Family Foundation, they will help us save more lives every day,” said Scripps President and CEO Chris Van Gorder.

The Leichtag Family Foundation’s $10 million gift to The Campaign for Scripps Encinitas supports construction of a new two-story, 60,000-square-foot critical care building with a new 27-station emergency department, twice the number on today’s unit.

It will double the capacity of the emergency department and allow for new, state-of-the-art technology and services. This project is part of the nonprofit hospital’s most extensive expansion effort in several decades, which also includes the addition of an acute care building, parking structure and medical office building. Construction on the parking structure will begin in spring 2010.

“The Leichtags were visionaries, following in the footsteps of our founder Ellen Browning Scripps in their desire to help others,” Van Gorder said. “This historic gift to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas provides a legacy of caring that will benefit our patients and our community for years to come. We are very grateful for their commitment to the Encinitas community and the health care we provide at Scripps.”

Prior to this gift, the Leichtags donated more than $7 million to Scripps Encinitas.

Toni, who passed away last month, and Lee, who passed away in November 2007, made their first donation to the hospital in 1979. Since then, the family has made gifts to the emergency department, neonatal intensive care unit and the Leichtag Women’s Health and Birth Pavilion, which was dedicated in their honor in 1993.

Toni was a founding member of Circle of Life 100, a women’s service organization that supports the hospital, and she also served on the Scripps Encinitas Community Advisory Board for more than two decades.

“There has always been a special bond between the Leichtag family and Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO of the Leichtag Family Foundation. “Our hope is that this leadership gift will inspire others throughout North County to generously support their community hospital. It was Lee and Toni’s vision to see the hospital that had cared for them through the years continue to grow to serve North County residents for many years to come.”

Scripps Encinitas had more than 70,000 patient visits in 2008. During the past decade, population growth has far exceeded projected patient volumes in the emergency department. More than 70 percent of the inpatients at Scripps Encinitas are admitted through the emergency department. With only 12 stations and more than 37,000 patient visits last year, the emergency department must expand to meet community needs.

“We are so grateful to Leichtag Family Foundation for continuing the work of Lee and Toni Leichtag,” said David Kulchin, chairman of the Scripps Encinitas Community Advisory Board. “The Leichtags were close friends of the hospital. They recognized the importance of philanthropy, and were generous with their time, talents and their financial support. This gift is critical to the launch of our community fundraising campaign.”

In addition to a significant investment from Scripps Health to complete construction on the hospital campus, The Campaign for Scripps Encinitas seeks $38 million in philanthropic contributions for the first phase of expansion.

With the contribution from the Leichtag Family Foundation and other gifts to date, the campaign has raised $17.5 million. For more information call (760) 633-7722 or visit