Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
El Camino Hospital honored the late Norma Melchor Dec. 20 by renaming its Heart and Vascular Institute after the longtime benefactor and Los Altos resident.
Hospital officials unveiled the newly titled Norma Melchor Heart & Vascular Institute of El Camino Hospital during a short ceremony at the hospital, which came on the heels of a recent multimillion-dollar gift by the Melchor family to support clinical programs and research at the institute. Coupled with their most recent gift, the Melchor family is responsible for the largest cumulative gift total to the hospital’s foundation.
Melchor, a former surgical nurse and ardent supporter of the hospital for more than 50 years, died Feb. 17 at the age of 87. She originally joined the El Camino Hospital Auxiliary in 1957 before the hospital opened its doors and organized tours of the hospital when it opened in 1961.
“When the hospital was being built, there was just this steel structure on one corner,” Jack Melchor recalled of his wife’s early involvement. “Norma would run up and down the stairs – they just had this stairway with steel beams all over the place. She would go with a group of people up this flight of stairs to the third floor and show them how the hospital was going to look … at that time the hospital was all steel frames except for that stairway.”
Later that year, she served as the chairwoman of Training at the hospital, before becoming its vice president and chairwoman of Services in 1962, eventually rising to the role of president in 1963. Melchor also co-chaired the Citizens Committee for the hospital district.
“It really brought a lot of joy to her, from her experience as a nurse, to be involved with the hospital, but more importantly, to see that the community was going to have much better health care than it had,” Greg Melchor recalled of his mother’s role in the hospital’s founding.
In 1974, she began the first of four terms as a member of the El Camino Hospital District Board of Directors.
Melchor and her husband continued their philanthropic efforts through multiple gifts, including a leadership gift to establish the El Camino Hospital Foundation in 1982, and donated the land that is now the home of the hospital’s Melchor Pavilion.
“Outside of her family,” Jack said, “this was her first love.”