Diablo Views: Blackhawk man full of capital ideas | January 25, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Column - January 25, 2008

Diablo Views: Blackhawk man full of capital ideas

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The emergency room at John Muir Medical Center was there when we needed it 25 years ago. We'd just moved to our house off Livorna Road and by mid-summer had a hill of weeds at the back of our property. My husband went into full Russian peasant mode, bought a scythe, and began to swing it full force through the tall dry grasses. Unfortunately one of his first swings ended with the sharp point of the scythe puncturing his ankle. He staunched the gushing red blood but when the pain became acute, I drove him to John Muir.

I was recalling this mishap as I watched the crowd at the groundbreaking last week for the new five-story building at the medical center. A huge tent was erected in the parking lot for the event, and it was filled with supporters. The first speaker informed us that in 1957, there was Concord Community Hospital, which was always full, and Kaiser had just opened in Walnut Creek. A core group of 42 physicians proposed the new hospital, purchased 10 acres on Ygnacio Valley Road and, after six years of planning and two years of construction, the 150-bed hospital opened in 1965 at a cost of $4.5 million.

Obviously things are much more expensive these days, both for building and for providing state-of-the-art technology; the Walnut Creek campus expansion will cost $621 million, funded through John Muir Health System reserves, hospital bonds and a $40 million capital campaign. The expanded facilities will be nearly paperless, filmless and wireless - the new patient rooms will even have bedside access to the Internet.

At the groundbreaking, I met Blackhawk resident Guy Henshaw, managing director of Henshaw/Vierra Management Counsel LLC, who is heading up the capital campaign. Henshaw lived in Mexico as a boy where his father was a geologist with the Hearst family. When the family moved to the Bay Area, his mother was thrilled with the medical facilities, Guy said, and she told the family to always support the wonderful hospitals that served them. "She became the head of volunteers at Alta Bates," he recalled.

Guy has lived all over the world with executive commercial banking positions. He and his wife Susan moved to Walnut Creek 30 years ago, and in 1990 he became president of the John Muir Health Foundation. The Henshaws bought their Blackhawk home a year ago. He said they loved the house because its extensive use of wood brought back memories of their years living in England. Gated communities fit their lifestyle of frequent traveling, Guy noted; they have another home in a gated golf community in Tucson where they visit once a month. He also likes the location of their Blackhawk home - it's at one end of Crow Canyon Road and they have grandchildren at the other end, in Castro Valley.

Henshaw pointed out that the last three chairmen of the board at John Muir Health Foundation were Danville residents. "I was chairman when we authorized the project in 2003 and 2004," he explained. "From 2005 to 2006, Ron Banducci was chair when all the planning was done. The current chair is the former Danville Mayor Don Richie. Both Don and Ron were great leaders - and were also helpful in getting me to be a Danville home owner, too."

He noted that so far the capital campaign has raised $27.5 million. The largest contributors are:

* $9.5 million from the Thomas J. Long Foundation: The new building will be called the Thomas J. and Muriel T. Long Patient Care Tower.

* $2.5 million from Rossmoor resident Theresa M. Caygill, who will have the Trauma/Emergency Services Department named after her.

* $2.5 million from the J.M. Long Foundation, which will name the new intensive care nursery.

Also, employees have collectively contributed $1.3 million, many through payroll deductions; and the physicians have given $1.5 million. The Walnut Creek Campus Auxiliary raised $2.5 million so the central courtyard in the main lobby will be named after it.

The expansion is increasing the number of beds from 324 to 416 and doubling emergency treatment rooms from 22 to 44, good news in case my husband ever picks up his scythe again. The weeds, by the way, became my chore. I joined the 20th century and went out back with an electric weed whacker, but my first time out, I whacked into a wasp hive. The resulting attack felt rather like a hatchet cleaving the top of my skull. My husband was away so my 10-year-old son removed the stingers, and I lay on the couch with ice on my head and throbbing hands. I probably should have gone to the emergency room. (After that we hired someone to cut the weeds.)

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.