The CARESTAR Foundation Announces Leighton Memorial Grant Award Recipient
Berkeley, California – The CARESTAR Foundation announced the Feather River Health Foundation / Adventist Health Feather River as the 2020 recipient of the Leighton Memorial Grant.
Established in 2018, this award seeks to further the legacy of Jeff Leighton, a key advisor to the CARESTAR Foundation during its launch. The Leighton Memorial Grant supports one organization annually, specifically recognizing exemplary emergency response or trauma care provided to low-income, underserved, immigrant, or communities of color, particularly in a rural setting in California.
An expert in the areas of non-profit foundation development, operations, finance, and investment management, Leighton was instrumental in helping CARESTAR incorporate as an organization in 2017. His illness and subsequent death during this process led the Board of Directors to establish the Leighton Memorial Grant Award to recognize Leighton’s outstanding contributions to the CARESTAR Foundation, and to support regions that often find themselves without critical medical care for local residents, something Leighton and his family experienced during his own health struggles.
This year’s grantee, the Feather River Health Foundation / Adventist Health Feather River, was selected and awarded with a $100,000 donation for its deep commitment to the health and safety of the town of Paradise and surrounding communities during the 2018 Camp Fire, and for its resilience and creativity in ongoing efforts to rebuild and ensure access to emergency, urgent care, and mental health services to area residents.
“We are proud to honor the Feather River Health Foundation / Adventist Health Feather River for the incredible work they have done, and continue to do, for Butte County residents following the devastating Camp Fire,” said Tanir Ami, chief executive officer of the CARESTAR Foundation. “This grant award was created to recognize exemplary emergency response or trauma care specifically in rural areas, in connection with a crisis or challenging circumstance. After all they have been through, we cannot imagine a more deserving organization than Feather River. And to support their rebuilding efforts, as they work to address the health disparities and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels even more appropriate.”
“This grant award was created to recognize exemplary emergency response or trauma care specifically in rural areas, in connection with a crisis or challenging circumstance. After all they have been through, we cannot imagine a more deserving organization than Feather River.”
When the Camp Fire started on November 8, 2018, it spread through the Feather River Canyon and into the town of Paradise, devastating the community. Over the course of 17 days, the Camp Fire killed 85 people, burned more than 150,000 acres, and leveled more than 18,000 buildings. Amidst the chaos and danger of the wildfire, Adventist Health Feather River successfully evacuated all patients out of the hospital safely, many in the personal vehicles of associates who drove through the fire at their own risk. Critical parts of the hospital burned and became non-operational, including the emergency department, and more than 600 staff members lost their homes, cars, and possessions.
By November 2019, Adventist Health Feather River and the Feather River Health Foundation, in partnership with Butte County EMS, were able to re-establish an EMS base station in Paradise and began 24/7 operations. With 63 patient transports per month since opening, this local base has decreased emergency response times by nearly 20%.
“The Camp Fire forever changed our community,” said Joleen Levey, Philanthropy Director for Feather River Health Foundation. “While the landmarks and landscapes have changed, our mission remains the same. Today, we stand together to rebuild and care for the health of our patients, friends, and neighbors. With this grant, we will invest in new and continuing services that are vital to our community, such as the Paradise EMS base station operations and mental health services, to support the future health and wellbeing of our community and ensure access to emergency care and transport for residents who have remained and for those who are returning here.”
“I was so impressed to learn about the unwavering dedication and perseverance of the Feather River Health Foundation and its staff, to provide medical services and restore emergency care in the face of so much trauma,” said Tamera Leighton, wife of the late Jeff Leighton. “Without a doubt, Paradise will be on a journey of rebuilding for years to come. I’m grateful to know that this grant will contribute to the community’s healing and play a small part in helping them feel whole again.”
About the CARESTAR Foundation
The CARESTAR Foundation was founded in 2017 as a result of the sale of CALSTAR (California Shock Trauma Air Rescue), an air ambulance company, and honors CALSTAR’S legacy and lifesaving work in the field of emergency and trauma transport and care. CARESTAR’s mission is to improve health outcomes for all Californians, by applying a racial equity lens to fund and advocate for improvements to our emergency response system. www.carestarfoundation.org.