GREENBRAE -- Marin General Hospital said today it has received a donation of $2.89 million that will go toward expanding and upgrading the level III trauma center's emergency department.

The first phase of construction on the department is planned to start in May and will be completed by July, the hospital said.

The donation, one of the largest in the hospital's history, comes from the Schultz Family, which has a long history of supporting the hospital through contributions that have improved the current emergency department, the birthing center, the breast imaging center and the Marin Cancer Institute, among others, Marin General said in announcing the gift.

Niels Schultz Jr., who died in 2008, advocated for new technologies at the 235-bed acute-care facility. He previously funded the linear accelerator for the Marin Cancer Institute, the hospital said.

"This latest gift for the ED will expand his legacy," the hospital said.

"The Emergency Department staff and physicians are very appreciative of the support of the Schultz family," said Jim Dietz, the hospital's emergency department medical director. "Without a doubt, improving our access to CT and MRI scanning represents a significant improvement in patient safety. Getting images quickly will cut the time to treatment and provide a back-up should one CT be out of commission. In life-threatening emergencies, the time savings that we anticipate can make a difference."

The triage area of the emergency department will be expanded into what is currently the waiting room. The expansion will also include a separate waiting space with a designated pediatric section that will include a room equipped for pediatric emergency care.

"We are immensely grateful for the extraordinary generosity of the Schultz family," said Marin General CEO Lee Domanico. "They have consistently provided leadership and financial support for improvements over many decades. No other family is so synonymous with Marin General Hospital."

The late Mr. Schultz served in several volunteer positions at the hospital, including chairman of the hospital board.