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Torrance Memorial Medical Center gets $50-million gift

By Eryn Brown

8:30 PM PST, December 6, 2013

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Los Angeles philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist have donated $50 million to Torrance Memorial Medical Center to help finish construction on a new main patient tower.

The gift was revealed at the community hospital's annual Holiday Festival Gala on Friday evening. 

Melanie Lundquist said that she and her husband, who are co-chairs of a capital campaign to raise money for the tower, had been "toying with the idea" of making the donation for some time.  The couple has given about $18 million to the hospital previously, said Lundquist, who volunteered for many years at the medical center's front desk.

The new, seven-story building, to be called the Melanie and Richard Lundquist Main Tower, is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014 and will include 256 private rooms and 18 surgical and treatment rooms.

The donation "is a game-changer for our hospital," hospital Chief Executive Craig Leach said in a statement.

The Lundquists are dedicating the tower to the late Dr. Richard B. Hoffman, a former chief of radiology at the hospital who Melanie Lundquist called "a true believer" in the hospital's mission.

"I'm just sorry he can't see the tower finished," Lundquist said.

The gift will rank among the top 10 philanthropic gifts to health institutions in the U.S. this year, according to a database maintained by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. It is the second $50-million donation the Lundquists have awarded to a charitable cause.  In 2007, the couple pledged an equal amount to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which took over 10 LAUSD campuses in 2008. (Times columnist Steve Lopez wrote about Melanie Lundquist in this 2009 column.)

Melanie Lundquist said the couple's naming rights would expire after 25 years so the hospital can offer them as an incentive to future donors.

"A friend of mine says, 'You can't attach a U-Haul to a hearse,'" she said in an interview before the gala. "You're not taking it with you."

The family's company, Continental Development Corp. in El Segundo, develops commercial and retail properties, Lundquist said.

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