By Kristina Houck
Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas has a special place in Joanne Marks — and her family’s — hearts.
After 16 years of fainting spells, doctors at Scripps Encinitas discovered why her husband suffered from syncope. His heart had been stopping. He has since been implanted with a pacemaker.
A month later, her brother-in-law had a heart attack. He was also treated at the Encinitas facility.
“We experienced wonderful care,” said Marks, who lives with her family in Rancho Santa Fe. “It’s a very significant comfort to know that the highest quality care of the nation is in your backyard.”
Scripps Encinitas recently marked its 50th anniversary, having grown from a small convalescent center to a full-service hospital that cares for more than 80,000 patients a year.
To celebrate the occasion and raise funds for a hospital expansion project, Marks and three other Rancho Santa Fe women are co-chairing the Scripps Encinitas Gala April 26.
“Nearly all people in the United States are going to use a hospital at the beginning of their life, end of their life or sometime in between,” Marks said. “If you want a hospital of quality, the community has to get behind it.”
Founded as Encinitas Convalescent Hospital, the facility opened April 9, 1964, to provide long-term care for patients recovering from illness or surgery. Today, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas has 158 beds, more than 40,000 emergency room visits annually and delivers nearly 2,000 babies each year.
“The doctors, the level of care — it is very high quality,” said Catherine Nicholas, another co-chair from Rancho Santa Fe. “It’s a leading facility.”
“I like that it’s personal,” added co-chair Mary Miller. Three of the Rancho Santa Fe mother’s five children were born at the Encinitas facility. “This is a jewel. You go in and you’re not a number. They know you.”
An almost 62,000-square-foot, two-story critical care building is set to open this summer. The building will house a 27-bed emergency department on the first floor, which will more than double the size of the hospital’s emergency room. The second floor will include 36 beds for patients recovering from surgery or acute illnesses.
Scripps is two-thirds of the way toward its $58 million philanthropic goal, having already raised $39 million for the project, which will also be funded by borrowing and operating margin.
“From Del Mar to Rancho Santa Fe, and Carlsbad to Oceanside, this is something that unites all of North County,” Miller said. “They care for everyone.”
RSF’s Franci Free is the fourth gala co-chair. The gala is sold out, but those interested can contact Emily Wilson at the Scripps Health Foundation at 760-633-6888 or firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waitlist.
For more information about the gala, visit
For more information about Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, visit