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A gift four decades in the making is poised to change one community’s landscape of care.

Friends of Mercy Foundation

In February of 2021, California’s Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield and the Friends of Mercy Foundation announced the fruition of a $25 million gift from Mrs. Adelaide Karpe originally bequeathed in 1979.

Mrs. Karpe’s husband, A.H. Karpe, was treated in Mercy Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in the 1970s. At the time, Mrs. Karpe was befriended by a Sister of Mercy, nurse Marian Joseph, who was the Director of the Intensive Care Unit. Mrs. Karpe was so deeply touched by the Sister’s compassion and commitment to Mercy Hospital’s mission that she wanted to honor her in her will.

When Mrs. Karpe died in 1979 she left a 1,167 acre parcel of contiguous farmland to Mercy Hospital. In her estate documents, she had the foresight to restrict her gift to be sold and used only to build hospital facilities. The land was originally purchased by the Karpe family in 1940 for $10. When Mrs. Karpe passed, the land was valued at $1,000,000.

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The proceeds from the recent sale of the farmland, now valued at over $25 million, will be used to construct the expansion of Dignity Health’s Mercy Southwest Hospital.

For the last 42 years Karpe Ranch, as it is locally known, has been leased as farmland with the income from the lease funding vital Mercy Hospital projects including state-of-the-art technology and equipment as well as outreach services provided to the poor by Mercy’s Department of Special Needs and Community Outreach.

“For the last 40 years, the proceeds of the lease of the ranch have touched countless in our community, and the legacy of their friendship will continue to impact generations to come.”

Now, the Friends of Mercy Foundation has sold the land with the proceeds to be used for the construction of the $300 million Patient Care Tower at Mercy Hospital Southwest. For the first time, cardiac and neurosurgery will be available to area residents in Kern County. The expansion project will include six additional operating rooms, 106 private patient rooms, a new 24 room Intensive Care Unit and 18 Private Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rooms. The tower will also include state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization suites, greater neurosurgery capabilities and an expanded emergency department.

“This transformational gift blossomed simply from humankindness -- the relationship between a nurse, who was a Sister of Mercy, and the spouse of a patient,” says Toni Harper, Vice President of Philanthropy, Friends of Mercy Foundation. “For the last 40 years, the proceeds of the lease of the ranch have touched countless in our community, and the legacy of their friendship will continue to impact generations to come.”

Mrs. Karpe’s decades-long vision and generosity will literally change the landscape of health care in Kern County, filling a critical need in the community. In recognition of Adelaide Karpe’s foresight and to recognize donors who, like her, have remembered Mercy with a bequest or planned gift, the foundation established Adelaide’s Circle of Caring.

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