Sharp ENVISIONS a New Legacy


In May 2022, Sharp HealthCare Foundation launched ENVISION: The Campaign for Sharp HealthCare with the groundbreaking for the Cushman Emergency and Trauma Center. The event was held at one of San Diego’s most historic locations — The Donald N. Sharp Memorial Community Hospital. Today, we reflect on a milestone from seven decades ago.

The Sharp story began in 1946, about a year after the end of World War II. San Diego had grown considerably during the war and was in desperate need of a new community hospital.

That fall, a group of individuals came together to plan the effort and organized the San Diego Hospital Association. From the beginning, the Association was guided by extraordinary leaders of vision, generosity and perseverance. After more than a year of planning, the San Diego Hospital Association began what would be the largest fundraising campaign at the time in San Diego.

In 1949, following his acceptance to chair the campaign, Philip L. Gildred donated $12,500 toward the purchase of the land in Kearny Mesa. It had been secured several months before, following a long search and consideration of several locations.

In 1950, encouraged by a friend, Thomas E. Sharp made a $500,000 gift in memory of his son, Lt. Donald N. Sharp, who was killed in World War II. This gift established the Donald N. Sharp Memorial Community Hospital.

Over the next several years, the Association focused on its fundraising efforts. The campaign received more than $3.5 million in gifts from more than 11,000 individuals, families, physicians, corporations and organizations.

Exactly 70 years ago, on March 28, 1953, the Association broke ground on the Donald N. Sharp Memorial Community Hospital.

In 1955, the San Diego Hospital Association achieved the visionary goal that a small group of dedicated leaders set at the end of 1946 — to provide a modern new hospital for the residents of San Diego. As they “threw away” the ceremonial key, noting that the “doors to Sharp would never be closed,” the Association — now Sharp HealthCare — was true to their word that they would transform the health care experience for millions of people.

Now, Sharp HealthCare is investing $2 billion in the future of health care in San Diego. Advanced technology, innovation and new facilities are planned, with the intent to attract the best and brightest clinicians. ENVISION: The Campaign for Sharp HealthCare has crossed the $100 million milestone toward a $250 million goal.

Sharp is indeed ENVISIONING a new legacy for health care in San Diego, with the same aspirations of excellence foreseen seven decades ago, when the earth was first turned and health care in our community was forever transformed. To join this historic effort, visit


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Esteban Villanueva