Immigrant family gives back with large hospital donation

Immigrant family gives back with large hospital donation

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A local farming family is donating $2 million to help save lives, saying it's a way to pay back for the opportunity to create a new life in America.

The Munger family emigrated from India, and the new Sarvanand Heart and Stroke Center is named for their spiritual leader.

The center will provide care for heart and stroke patients and allow Kern County's first-ever cardiac care for children.

"This is the first of its kind on the West Coast, in California, and the West," Memorial Hospital President Jon Van Boening said. Hospital staff and supporters publicly thanked the Munger family Wednesday morning, making a formal announcement about the new clinics.

David Munger said the family has a tradition of helping the needy and children, and this is a way to continue that in their new home.

"We've been very blessed," Munger told Eyewitness News. "There are opportunities in America that don't exist in other countries." The family moved from India several decades ago.

Van Boening said the Munger parents moved to California 46 years ago with their seven children. Lajpat Munger started as a farmworker, eventually bought his own farmland, and the company kept growing. Munger Farms is now a major grower of pistachios, almonds, and especially blueberries.

David Munger said his family has followed the teachings of their guru, Swami Sarvanand Gir. The guru stressed honesty, hard work and giving back to the community. "We feel very blessed, and we want to follow his teachings by giving back and honoring his name," Munger said.

The Sarvanand Center will include what's called a "Bi-plane Interventional Radiology Suite," and it's already under construction. A hospital statement says that lab will be the "only comprehensive and state-of-the-art Center for Interventional Medicine in the region."

"This equipment allows the doctor to take pictures from two different angles simultaneously," Dr. Tommy Lee explained. "This bi-plane lab will allow our program to safely deliver care to the tiniest infants."

Another part of the facility will be the Hybrid Endovascular Catheterization Lab. The hospital says that will provide care to heart and stroke patients with reduced amounts of risk.

"This is an amazing change in our field, and how we treat patients," Memorial's Dr. Javier Miro said. He said the new facility will allow less invasive procedures, and faster recoveries for patients.

The bi-plane lab is set to be done in January; construction is set to start on the hybrid lab in 2014.

The Munger family has made major donations for decades in their native India. The hospital says Lajpat Munger built a hospital in Punjap that provides free medical care to the needy, and they support seven other hospitals in that area. They've also helped to build a university, high school and elementary school in India.

The family says Lajpat Munger survived two heart attacks, and he's grateful for the care he got in Bakersfield.

"I've known the family for nearly a decade, and I've always been impressed by their caring attitude," Dr. Tommy Lee said. "The expansion of the cardiovascular department at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital will allow us to deliver these life-saving procedures to our friends and neighbors without sending them to Los Angeles or other distant cities."