Philanthropists witness fruits of their labor

Natividad, SALINAS — With fake “blood” spattered on his T- shirt, John D’Arrigo, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of D’Arrigo Bros., Co. of CA and founder of The Agricultural Leadership Council (TALC) was wheeled on a gurney to the front of a room where trauma surgeons awaited – during a light-hearted annual tradition that says “thank-you” from the Natividad Foundation to TALC for donations provided to fund new life-saving technologies.

The mock exercise at Natividad (NMC) had a serious point: The regional Trauma Center at NMC has treated over 1,000 patients since January 2015, with top- notch medical equipment purchased in part by contributions from TALC. Since its inception, TALC has purchased over 140 pieces of medical equipment.

Natividad is the only Level II Trauma Center in the tri-county region. Local trauma care is a vital community service that saves lives and eliminates the need to fly critically injured patients to a distant trauma center. Natividad’s Trauma Center is staffed by a highly skilled trauma care team in-house 24/7, consisting of physicians, surgical specialists, nurses, technicians and support personnel.

After shedding the “bloodied” T-shirt, D’Arrigo addressed his fellow TALC members, pointing out that TALC has raised more than $1.7 million for the Medical Foundation since 2010.

“The need is endless,” D’Arrigo said. “But that’s what we do here. We change lives and save lives.”

The money raised is distributed throughout the Medical Center for services like Trauma Education. Natividad trauma surgeon, Dr. Andrew McCague, demonstrated high-tech mannequins used to provide ongoing training to trauma physicians. The mannequins, purchased with donations from TALC, are used to simulate everything from intubating patients to help them breath to opening an airway through the throat, called a tracheotomy. One even “bleeds” artificial blood.

Another addition to the trauma team’s “tool belt” is a cooling machine that lowers body temperature to protect brain cells, particularly after a brain injury or cardiac arrest. Many physicians think of it as “cooling the body to save the brain.”

But it’s not all about equipment. TALC has also funded the Foundation’s Indigenous Interpreting + program. Indigenous Interpreting + provides patients with interpreting services during their medical care. Interpreters are there when medical staff needs to explain treatment plans to non-English and non-Spanish speaking patients. In the Salinas Valley, agricultural workers are often from areas in Mexico where indigenous languages like Mixteco or Triqui are spoken exclusively. Many of these indigenous peoples do not understand Spanish.

Victor Sosa, who heads the Indigenous Interpreting + program at Natividad, introduced several interpreters who are there for patients when physicians need to explain an illness or injury. Imagine trying to take a medication as prescribed when you can’t read or speak English or Spanish.

“Many of the patients may not know where the money comes from for the program, but they are incredibly grateful to have an interpreter,” Sosa said.