From the heart 

Local donors endow a legacy of cardiac care

One of the first things William and Susanne Tyler noticed about the Monterey Peninsula when they moved here was that it felt like home. Part of that is because, although they’ve lived in many places and traveled to more, they both grew up in the Golden State. They also both attended UC Berkeley, where they met, and have enjoyed, over the years, their Carmel visits and friends. Mostly they found here a strong sense of community.

So when they chose to stand behind a philanthropic cause, they understood that they wanted their work to begin at home.

“When most people reach a certain age,” says William Tyler, “they begin to wish they could do something that would touch the heart, make a difference, leave a legacy that gives value to their time on earth and support to those who will come after. Those of us who are able to do that are truly blessed. The question was how to do it.

“We knew of our wonderful hospital in its beautiful setting among the trees,” says Tyler. “Our community is fortunate to have such a marvelous facility. What we didn’t know was that the hospital was in the midst of significant change.”

The Tylers took a drive up to the hospital and toured the South Pavilion, with its new Emergency department, Intensive Care Unit, and surgical suites, and the under-construction Forest Pavilion, with its state-of-the-art patient rooms.

It was Albert Alvarez, chief development officer for Community Hospital Foundation and a colleague of Tyler’s through the Carmel Rotary Club, who explained the cardiac program to the Tylers and made them aware of the hospital’s plans for expansion.

“Although the hospital already had cardiac services,” says Tyler, “I learned they wanted to get to the highest level of cardiac care, to become a cardiac center of excellence so community members would be able to get superlative care without going out of town.

“I identified with this. Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a heart condition, an arrhythmia in the upper chamber, which required an ablation. It’s not dramatic and not life-threatening if managed, but it was very disconcerting and certainly ratcheted up our awareness of heart issues.”

So the Tylers learned more about changes happening at the hospital, one of which was the  development of a comprehensive heart program.

“At first,” said Tyler, “I was jarred by the magnitude of that. But the more I reflected, the more I realized that, without question, we would love to be involved in making a difference here.”

Committed to the belief that their gift was not about themselves but about Community Hospital, its heart program, and the community it will serve, the Tylers entertained the notion of an anonymous gift.

But the hospital encouraged them to reveal their identity to help inspire other private citizens to give as they are able and to believe it is possible. That notion was what changed their minds. To that end, Community Hospital is pleased to announce the launch of the Tyler Heart Institute, which will include all the cardiac services the hospital has provided for decades — a wide array of education, wellness, diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation services offered in multiple locations — as well as the cardiac catheterization lab, which opened in 2005, and the open-heart surgery program which began February 13.

“The Tylers’ generous gift will help us get to the next level with the already-high-quality cardiac services we provide,” says President/CEO Steven J. Packer, MD. “Our vision is of a seamless patient experience, throughout the entire spectrum of heart care, from screening and diagnosis to post-surgical rehabilitation.

The Tylers’ donation will also allow us to explore future technologies and treatment strategies as the demand for heart services increases in our community.”