Arroyo Grande Community Hospital will donate $5,000 to the 5Cities Homeless Coalition in honor of Dr. Graciela Sarmiento, who died in October when the small plane she was traveling in slammed into the base of a fog-shrouded mountain in Baja California.
The crash killed three other residents — pilot Roger Lyon, Dr. James Thornton and Cal Poly student Andrew Thiel — who were part of a medical aid team called The Flying Samaritans. The nonprofit, volunteer organization offers medical assistance and life-saving treatments to people in rural Mexico.
Sarmiento worked for Community Health Centers of the Central Coast in its Oceano office, and served as an Arroyo Grande Community Hospital board member. She worked daily with the poor, uninsured and homeless at CHC’s Oceano clinic.
“Dr. Sarmiento was known for often volunteering her time for community benefit programs for the hospital as well as an advocate for underserved populations in the community — for the homeless in particular,” Anna Scott, a hospital spokeswoman, wrote in a news release.
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The donation will be presented during a dedication Saturday at 11 a.m. at the hospital’s healing garden, where orchids will be planted in her memory. Sarmiento’s family, including her husband and three children, will be present, as well as representatives from the 5Cities Homeless Coalition.
The coalition is a nonprofit organization that is working to construct a homeless services community center in the South County. For more information, go to http://5chc.org.