Generous $500,000 Gift to French Hospital Medical Center

Supports the Beyond Health Campaign Memorial gift supports new meditation room and serenity garden at Your New French Hospital

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – February 17, 2022 – French Hospital Medical Center (FHMC) is pleased to announce a $500,000 gift for the Beyond Health campaign from John Couch, a former Apple executive and author. This gift will support the hospital’s current $150 million expansion project for “Your New French Hospital”, which includes the addition of a new Patient Care Tower featuring single patient rooms.

Couch became interested in supporting FHMC after learning about the impact “Your New French Hospital” will have on health care on the Central Coast and the increased focus on including holistic healing spaces in the design of the expansion. Healing spaces are being incorporated throughout the new campus, aimed at supporting the emotional, mental and spiritual needs of patients and families. This includes a meditation room and a serenity garden located adjacent to the new main lobby (in the new tower) for ease of access by patients, visitors and staff.

In recognition of his gift, John Couch’s generosity will be recognized with the naming of the Mary Lou Couch Mediation Room and Serenity Garden, in memory of his late mother Mary Lou Couch, who passed away in 2021.

“I am honored to support French Hospital and its vision for the future,” says John Couch. “And I am truly touched to name this important healing space in recognition of my mother. She was a deeply spiritual woman and to honor her in
this way is very meaningful to our family.”

Couch, one of UC Berkeley’s first computer science graduates, was Apple’s 54th employee. He eventually became its first Vice President of Software and, later, the first Vice President of Education. Following his career at Apple, Couch
pursued other business ventures and co-authored several books. He recently relocated to San Luis Obispo.

“We are extremely grateful for John’s support and his commitment to providing our community with world-class health care. His gift will help provide patients and families with much needed opportunities for respite and reflection during hospital visits,” says Alan Iftiniuk, FHMC President and CEO.

With this gift, the hospital has $137 million committed, with $120 million being invested by Dignity Health and the balance coming from many private donors in San Luis Obispo County. To date, the Beyond Health campaign has raised $17 million.

In addition to the Mary Lou Couch Mediation Room and Serenity Garden, the “Your New French Hospital” expansion project will include:

  • 56 new private patient rooms, bringing the total licensed bed count to 180 making it the largest hospital in San Luis Obispo County
  • The new Stan and Barbara Clark Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – a 16-bed unit with state-of-the-art private family oriented rooms
  • An additional 10 Intensive Care Unit beds, bringing the total to 21- all private rooms
  • New front entrance, lobby and dining area
  • Swanson Family Chapel – a new interfaith chapel
  • Harold Miossi Garden Terrace providing space for sensory stimulation, socializing and outdoor activities
  • Expanded space for imaging, labs, pharmacy, food preparation, and more
  • Enhanced and advanced technology and services
  • A heliport helicopter landing pad for critical emergencies
  • New parking structure

A four-story 85,000-square-foot Patient Care Tower and one story parking structure will be built to accommodate the growth, with construction on the parking area to start this year. The expansion is planned for completion in 2025.

In recent years, with the full-fledged support of our many benefactors, FHMC has established the renowned Copeland, Forbes & Rossi Cardiac Care Center, the innovative George Hoag Family Hybrid Surgical Suite, the Copeland Health Education Pavilion and the Stollmeyer Family Birthing Center and Acute Care  Nursery, and the new Oppenheimer Family Center for Emergency Medicine.

Since Dignity Health acquired French Hospital in 2004, more than $121 million (non-inclusive of the new tower project) has been invested in the hospital to transform and modernize the facility. French Hospital has also provided nearly $30 million in community benefits to support various non-profit community programs.

To learn more about the project, visit

About French Hospital Medical Center
French Hospital Medical Center is a state-of-the-art, 112-bed acute care hospital located in San Luis Obispo, California. French’s Oppenheimer Family Center for Emergency Medicine is the area’s most advanced emergency services center. The modern facility is home to the Copeland, Forbes, and Rossi Cardiac Care Center, is the county’s premier cardiac center, providing the latest cardiac and imaging technology, and the Hearst Cancer Resource Center offering free education, resources and support to cancer patients and their families.

French Hospital Medical Center together with Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, and Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, make up Dignity Health Central Coast, a network of hospitals, physicians, and outpatient services including physician offices, ambulatory surgery centers, technologically-advanced laboratories and imaging centers, and a full service home health agency. To learn more, visit