Salinas Growers Leading the Way for a Healthier Monterey County

Coastal Grower Winter 2018

By Hillary Fish

Excellent health care for everyone isn’t just a dream. It’s something that’s happening right here in the Salinas Valley.

Home to the area’s only Trauma Center, Natividad is an acute care hospital dedicated to providing high-​quality health care to everyone. Founded in 1886, Natividad has a long history of serving residents and visitors of Monterey County, regardless of ability to pay. It offers a wide range of inpatient, outpatient, emergency, diagnostic and specialty medical care. Physicians trained at top-​rated schools with experience from world-​renowned hospitals flock to the UCSF-​affiliated teaching hospital to provide their expert skills to every patient.

John D
John D’Arrigo, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of D’Arrigo California; Member Natividad Foundation’s Board of Directors; Founder of The Agricultural Leadership Council (TALC).

It was a decade ago that John D’Arrigo — a third-​generation Salinas Valley grower — took a tour of Natividad. He decided he had to do something to improve health care for agricultural workers and their families. So he called his friends to ask for help. D’Arrigo soon founded The Agricultural Leadership Council (TALC) with a group of 22 farming families. This year, 95 agricultural leaders, individuals and businesses came together to make their annual collective donation to the nonprofit Natividad Foundation.

“Farming feeds our nation and supports our local communities,” said John D’Arrigo, D’Arrigo California’s President, CEO and Chairman of the Board. “I founded TALC with my fellow growers to ensure our community’s agricultural workers and their families get the best care. It could just as easily be one of my sons, my wife or me that’s a patient at Natividad.”

Natividad Foundation’s public-​private partnerships with TALC, individuals, businesses and other organizations help the medical center go above and beyond what it could do on its own. The Foundation works closely with its donors to provide funding for medical equipment, programs and training, which help ensure all patients feel less vulnerable. “Our partners are constantly setting new standards for philanthropy,” said Natividad Foundation’s President and CEO Jennifer Williams.

In 2018, TALC donated $313,050 to Natividad Foundation, bringing the total donations since TALC’s inception to more than $2.6 million. To date, the group has purchased 317 pieces of medical equipment crossing nearly every department in the hospital. “We know that when we can give our health care providers the tools they need to continue providing the best care, then everyone benefits,” D’Arrigo said.

“We know that when we can give our health care providers the tools they need to continue providing the best care, then everyone benefits.”

–  John D’Arrigo

TALC’s philanthropic support also funds innovative programs to respond to the unique needs of Monterey County’s diverse population. One such important program is Natividad Foundation’s Indigenous Interpreting+®. With its one-​of-​a-​kind training and credentialing, the program has indigenous interpreters on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In the Salinas Valley, there are an estimated 28,000 indigenous language speakers. Some of the most commonly spoken indigenous languages at Natividad are Mixteco and Triqui. Many indigenous language speakers come from villages in Mexico so remote, they know very little to no English or Spanish.

When an indigenous language speaker is hospitalized at Natividad, an indigenous interpreter is assigned to help them understand the treatments they’re being given. The interpreters are also tasked with ensuring patients are equipped to follow doctor’s orders during and after care. This takes place in moments as dramatic as a parent whose child is being brought by ambulance to Natividad, to understanding what is happening to their child, to how the family can support their child during hospitalization, and, later, how to care for their child once he or she is home.

“Imagine if you didn’t speak a common language with your health care provider and couldn’t understand what they were saying so you could consent to care,” Williams said. “With Indigenous Interpreting+, we’re successfully connecting patients with their doctors and nurses to speed healing and improve outcomes.”

Earlier this year, TALC member and Matsui Nursery President and CEO Teresa Matsui spearheaded a $500,000 donation providing seed funding for a new infusion center at Natividad. She envisioned a gift that would improve the health of the community.

“I believe that giving to community institutions that closely serve our workforce is a great business investment,” Matsui said. “Many of our employees and their families have received responsive, compassionate, quality care at Natividad.”

The center will provide a continuum of local, accessible care for cancer patients and others who require infusion treatments. The gift was made in honor of Matsui’s mother, Yasuko Matsui. It is the largest donation by an individual or family in the Foundation’s 30-​year history. Matsui, her sister and mother all are breast cancer survivors and positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation. “We were thrilled that our contribution could be used to facilitate the treatment process for cancer patients,” she said.

“Social issues are business issues and business people need to be social activists.”

–  Teresa Matsui, Matsui Nursery’s President and CEO

Research also backs that healthy employees are productive employees and Matsui believes good health is necessary for well-​being. “I learned long ago that if employees are healthy and less stressed in their personal lives, their work performance improves,” she said. “Social issues are business issues and business people need to be social activists.”

Natividad’s CEO Dr. Gary Gray said this ethos is evident throughout our community, and that every contribution, large or small makes a difference. “Through the generosity of Natividad Foundation’s donors, we’re strengthening Natividad and providing first-​class care to everyone who walks through our doors,” he said. “Gifts like those from the Matsui Family and TALC spark change. Gifts like mine and yours sustain change.”

For more information about Natividad Foundation, visit www​.natividadfoundation​.org or call (831) 755-​4187. To learn more about Natividad’s health care services, go to www​.natividad​.com or call (831) 755-4111.


Hillary Fish

Born and raised in Monterey County, Hillary Hollingsworth Fish is the Director of Communications and Annual Programs at Natividad Foundation. She joined the nonprofit last year after a 14-​year marketing career with Natividad Foundation donors Matsui Nursery and Earthbound Farm. Hillary is a Salinas High School and Hartnell College graduate, and holds a bachelor’s in journalism/​public relations from Chico State. She served as a board member of Ag Against Hunger and on Hartnell College’s Women’s Education Leadership Institute (WELI) committee. Hillary is the Founder and Communications Director of the Dual Immersion Academy of Salinas Parent- Teacher Organization.