Judy Thomas, JD
Coalition for Compassionate Care of California
Judy Thomas, JD, is CEO of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, a statewide partnership of healthcare providers, non-profit organizations and associations, state agencies and individuals working to ensure all seriously-ill Californians receive quality, compassionate care. The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California brings together multiple organizations, often with divergent interests, to develop, implement, and promote improved health care practices and standards across the continuum of care. The California coalition also has national impact on transforming the culture of care for people who are seriously ill through advancing the cause of palliative care in America.
Directing the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California since 2000, Ms. Thomas has helped improve the illness and end of life experiences of hundreds of thousands of Californians and their loved ones. Today the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California includes a staff of 12, a highly active board of 13 accomplished professionals, and an effective statewide network with a wide range of individuals, organizations, and foundations dedicated to advancing care for those with serious illness.
Under Ms. Thomas’ leadership, beginning in 2007, the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California led a successful statewide effort to implement Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), a standardized medical order form to indicate specific types of life-sustaining treatments a seriously ill patient chooses. By discussing and documenting a person’s choices, the POLST form helps patients and caregivers provide wanted care and avoid unwanted, potentially intrusive services. Through advocacy and legislation, community coalitions, and provider education Ms. Thomas and the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California have changed the way we plan for and provide care for seriously-ill Californians.
Judy is an attorney with over 20 years in healthcare. Before law school, she worked in the early field of managed care as a computer programmer for the nation’s first preferred provider organization. Later, as a lobbyist for LeadingAge of California and the California Hospital Association, she focused on aging and long-term care issues. Formerly a partner in the Sacramento-based law firm of Hunter, Richey, Di Benedetto & Brewer, Judy specialized in healthcare law and took an interest in issues affecting people with serious illness. She is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, where she received both her Juris Doctorate and her Bachelor of Science degree.
Today, Judy chairs the National POLST (Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) Paradigm Task Force, working to ensure POLST forms are interpreted consistently across the country. Judy serves on the Donate Life California advisory board, and is Past President of the California Culture Change Coalition, which was formed to make nursing homes great places to live and work.
In 2015, Judy was named a Practice Change Leader by the John A. Hartford Foundation.
Her team at the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California is working to implement palliative care for the Medi-Cal population, advance palliative care research and to continue to improve care for people nearing the end of life. Judy is an expert, sought-out by local and national audiences interested in discussing palliative care, advance care planning and coalition building to improve care for everyone.