Mark Twain Medical Center donation

(From left) Stephanie Geuke, Dr. Pardeep Athwal, Charanjit "CJ" Singh and Doug Archer review plans for the new updates coming to the surgery center at Mark TwainMedical Center in San Andreas.

The surgery department at Mark Twain Medical Center in San Andreas, one of the few hospitals in the Mother Lode, will get an upgrade to offer services and technologies that currently aren’t available in Calaveras County thanks to a recent record-breaking $4.5 million gift from the Wings of Freedom Foundation.

“We are honored to receive a $4.5 million gift from the Wings of Freedom Foundation,” Charanjit Singh, a philanthropy manager with Mark Twain Medical Center and Dignity Health, said in a recent announcement. 

Singh said it is the largest one-time gift ever donated to the Mark Twain Medical Center Foundation.

Mark Twain Medical Center is a 25-bed hospital with at least five family medical locations, providing inpatient acute care, outpatient services and emergency services, with more than 300 employees, serving a largely rural population. It is one of Calaveras County’s largest employers. Dignity Health operates hospitals and care facilities in three states and is billed as the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation.

While the surgery department at Mark Twain Medical Center is adequate and “meets the needs of today,” the gift from Wings of Freedom Foundation will allow it to perform surgeries that are often done outside of the county, Dr. Pardeep Athwal,chief medical officer and radiologist at the hospital, said in prepared remarks.

Physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists and nursing teams already work in the hospital’s surgery department, but Athwal said patients do not want to leave the Calaveras County community for their care.

The upgrade of the existing surgical services unit and adjacent areas at the hospital will add unspecified technologies to improve pre-operative care, surgical care, and post-operative care.

Some of the $4.5 million will be used to improve operating rooms for more advanced surgical procedures.

“Modernization of surgery services is a big step for Mark Twain,” Doug Archer, the president and CEO of Mark Twain Medical Center, said in prepared remarks. “This gift is a boost to the entire hospital as the project symbolizes the donors’ commitment to our community and the hospitals’ ability to remain at the forefront of excellence in patient care.”

No timetable was released for spending the money and upgrading the only hospital in Calaveras County. Hospital promoters said they intend to rename the surgery department after their upgrade project is complete to the Betty Higgins Surgical Center “in honor of her commitment to our community.”

Contact Guy McCarthy at or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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