Business & Real Estate

Sacramento Shriners hospital gets $7.3 million gift

Sacramento’s Shriners hospital has received a $7.3 million gift from a Sacramento woman who left the hospital almost her entire estate.

Shriners Hospitals for Children-Northern California said Friday it will name its occupational therapy program after R. Martha Ludwig. An architect, pharmacist and entrepreneur, Ludwig died two years ago at the age of 88.

The $7.3 million bequest represents one of the single largest donations in the hospital’s history, said spokeswoman Catherine Curran.

A naming ceremony will be held at the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

Her attorney and trustee, Lynn Dean, said Ludwig was inspired by a July 2003 story in The Sacramento Bee reporting that some Shriners hospitals around the country were facing financial difficulties and might have to close. The Sacramento facility wasn’t among them.

Ludwig brought a copy of the story to Dean’s office when the attorney began working on the woman’s estate.

“Something in there touched her heart,” Dean said.

Ludwig donated $169,000 to the hospital while she was alive, including funds to produce a documentary about the hospital called “Where Dreams Come True.” Her will says the $7.3 million bequest is to be used for “occupational therapy so that every child able to use his hands be able to do something useful with them,” according to the hospital.

Shriners hospitals around the country have been facing financial troubles for some years. In 2009, the organization, famous for its free medical care for children, announced it would start billing insurance companies. But the organization said it would cover any copayments and deductibles, as well as pay the expenses for any uninsured child, so families still pay nothing.

The 80-bed Sacramento hospital opened in 1997 and has treated tens of thousands of patients.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.