Advancements in palliative care and end-of-life care could not happen without the innovative and compassionate efforts of individuals and organizations who dedicate themselves to this important work.  On an annual or semi-annual basis, CCCC seeks to publically recognize a few of these outstanding leaders by presenting awards in the following categories:

Compassionate Care Leadership | Individual Award

Honors an individual who has emerged as a leader in palliative and end of life care in California, and whose work has resulted in improved care for seriously ill patients and their families.

Compassionate Care Leadership |Organization Award

Honors an organization in California striving to improve the care provided to patients with serious illnesses or life-threatening conditions, whether in a hospital, hospice, nursing home, or at home. Honorees are organizations whose contributions and passion for change are transforming people’s lives.

Pediatric Leadership | The Pediatric Palliative Care Leadership Award

This award is presented by CCCC to an individual who demonstrates a high-level commitment to pediatric palliative care leadership and advocacy.

Compassionate Care Innovator Award

Recognizes and celebrates a person who has played a key role in improving the quality and implementation of advance care planning and palliative care in California.

How to Nominate
CCCC invites nominations each fall for the awards which are presented at our Annual Summit the following spring.  Learn more.


The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 Compassionate Care Leadership Awards. These awards recognize individuals and organizations that are changing the way we care for people who are seriously ill or approaching the end of life.

View a video of the 2020 Compassionate Care Leadership Awards presentation and acceptance speeches here (YouTube).

Compassionate Care Leadership Award | Individual

Jeanine Ellinwood, MD
Snowline Hospice, Diamond Springs

Dr. Ellinwood serves as Medical Director for Snowline Hospice in Diamond Springs, California, and has been instrumental in expanding community-based palliative care by working to educate the community’s clinicians that palliative care can be provided concurrent with curative treatment, and at any point during a serious illness.

Prior to joining Snowline Hospice in 2011, Dr. Ellinwood worked for Los Palos Medical Association in Salinas where she was in private practice since 1996. Dr. Ellinwood was also the medical director of the Central Coast Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice.

After moving back to northern California and joining Snowline Hospice, Dr. Ellinwood helped launch Marshall Hospital’s Advanced Illness Management (AIM) Team, which directs palliative care to chronically ill Marshall patients.

While serving as Medical Director at Snowline Hospice, Dr. Ellinwood has led the company in serving hospice patients and palliative care patients who receive care through Snowline’s Supportive Care department.  The Supportive Care department, which was created in 2014, provides community-based palliative care to individuals who are living with serious illness and chronic illness, but are not yet qualified for hospice care.  Palliative care everywhere is the mantra Dr. Ellinwood lives by.

Dr. Ellinwood’s passion is rooted in improving the quality of life for patients receiving end of life care. As an internist in internal medicine, she found it difficult to observe patients getting treatments that weren’t going to prolong their lives or improve the quality of life that remained. With board certification in hospice and palliative care, she learned to encourage seriously ill people to live the best life possible.

Compassionate Care Leadership Award | Organization

CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care, San Marcos

The California State University Shiley Institute for Palliative Care, headed by Executive Director Jennifer Moore Ballentine and headquartered at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), is a workforce development initiative of the California State University system.

The mission of the Institute is to increase access to and awareness of palliative care by:

  • Educating current professionals,
  • Educating the future workforce, and
  • Building community awareness and advocacy

Founded in 2012 as CSU Institute for Palliative Care, CSUSM has educated more than 12,542 doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other healthcare professionals in palliative care best practices through convenient online courses and other programs.

CSUSM forged partnerships with CSU campuses in Fresno, Monterey Bay, and San Marcos to integrate palliative care into undergraduate curricula and educate the community about palliative care.

Pediatric Palliative Care Leadership Award |

Joan Fisher, MD
George Mark Children’s House

Dr. Joan Fisher is an accomplished physician and leader who offers transformative pediatric palliative care for her patients and their families; supports and inspires her interdisciplinary team members to work compassionately and with shared purpose; and actively promotes greater awareness of pediatric palliative care.

Dr. Fisher is the Medical Director of George Mark Children’s House (GMCH), which opened in 2004 as the first freestanding pediatric palliative care facility in the United States. She is also a faculty member and Director of Outreach, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Stanford Children’s Health. At California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), Dr. Fisher is the Medical Director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Dr. Fisher works to raise the awareness of pediatric palliative care and its value in the health care field. Together with colleagues at GMCH, she spearheaded and planned the first Summit on Pediatric Palliative Care on the West Coast, a sold-out day and a half event offered by George Mark in 2019.  She also makes herself available for the frequent invitations she receives to speak in grand rounds and presentations in hospitals, Regional Centers, and other venues.

Her contributions to Pediatric Palliative Care are extraordinary and she is determined in her devotion to sharing its value and meaning.

Past Leadership Award Winners

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California has seen many individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to palliative and end-of-life care in California. Here are past winners of the Compassionate Care Leadership and Compassionate Care Innovator awards.

2019 Awardees

INDIVIDUAL: Torrie Fields, MPH
Torrie Fields, MPH

Torrie Fields has made immeasurable contributions to the effort to increase access to palliative care. As Senior Program Manager of Palliative Care for Blue Shield of California, Torrie worked tirelessly to increase patient access to palliative care. As a measure of her success, Blue Shield now offers palliative care services to members in all 58 California counties.

Torrie acts as a consultant and curriculum developer for The Center to Advance Palliative Care and California State University Palliative Care Institute and travels the country as a respected speaker on palliative care and health policy. She is also a key member of national multi-payer workgroups that share learnings and help overcome barriers to make home-based palliative care a reality.

ORGANIZATION: Partnership HealthPlan of California
Partnership HealthPlan of California

As a Medicaid managed care health plan that serves approximately 550,000 members in 14 Northern California counties, Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC) is a recognized leader in implementing community-based palliative care in California. PHC began piloting its community-based palliative care program, Partners in Palliative Care, in 2015. Based on the pilot’s success, PHC extended the benefit to several counties — well ahead of the January 2018 start date of the state-mandated benefit under SB 1004. PHC has developed a network capable of providing palliative care services in each of the counties it serves and expanded its eligibility criteria beyond the state required diagnoses.

PHC also has also taken a lead in supporting advance care planning efforts. It has offered annual ACP trainings to its provider network and provided grant funding to support four new ACP community coalitions in Humboldt, Lake, Siskiyou, and Yolo counties. In 2017, PHC implemented an annual week-long event to promote National Health Care Decision Day among employees of the health plan.


David Sine, MD
Kaweah Delta Hospice, Visalia; Hinds Pediatric Hospice, Fresno;
And Valley Children’s Hospice, Madera

Dr. David Sine is a recognized leader in pediatric palliative care. Through his work, Dr. Sine provides care to hundreds of seriously-ill children and their families. He specializes in caring for children with very complex medical issues and difficult diagnoses. He dedicates time for each patient and their family to ensure the best plan of care is set in place and each child can live their life with dignity.

From taking after-hours phone calls to making in-home visits offer support to the patient and family at the end of life, Dr. Sine seemingly has no limits when it comes to his commitment to his patients and their families. To further support pediatric patients and their families, Dr. Sine created the non-profit program Trillium Kids, which provides financial grants to families of children with illness, special needs, palliative or hospice care. Since 2005, Trillium Kids has raised and donated more than $40,000 dollars, providing a positive impact to more than 360 children and families.

He is a true pioneer in pediatric palliative care. With over 20 years of pediatric palliative care and hospice experience, he has a wealth of knowledge that cannot be duplicated and a passion which inspires others.

2018 Awardees

INDIVIDUAL: Suzanne Engelder, MSA
Suzanne Engelder, MSA
The Center for Advance Care Planning and Advocacy (CACPA)

For more than 25 years, Suzanne Engelder has been a passionate advocate for people facing serious illness.  When Suzanne sees an unmet need, she looks for solutions and takes action. Suzanne was nominated by Liz Wessel.

Suzanne’s strong belief in the value of advance care planning led her to spearhead the establishment of The Center for Advance Care Planning and Advocacy (CACPA) at St Joseph Health. CACPA is dedicated to engaging the community and healthcare providers in conversations about what matters and ensuring that patients’ care preferences are honored.   She also formed the St. Joseph Health Southern Regional Advance Directive Task Force to improve community engagement and provider training, and collaborated with other local health systems and affiliated medical groups to form workgroups to build advance care planning workflows and templates for physicians to document and easily access advance directives within the electronic medical record.

The need for more new health care professionals trained in hospice and palliative care led Suzanne to establish an intern program at St. Joseph for MSWs in hospice as well as a collaborative affiliation agreement with California State University Long Beach to mentor Public Health, Gerontology and nursing students and create a community volunteer program.

When Suzanne saw the pain of parents who had been given a prenatal diagnosis that their baby will be born with a serious medical condition and die at birth or shortly thereafter, she worked to develop, promote and obtain funding for the St. Joseph Perinatal Comfort Care Program.  The program offers comprehensive services including a specialized holistic birthing plan, and music therapy, as well as spiritual and grief support throughout the pregnancy, birth and death. The program has received national recognition and has been presented at the National Perinatal Bereavement Conference.

Suzanne’s remarkable skills at problem-solving, program development, collaboration, and innovation as well as her deep compassion have been instrumental in relieving unnecessary suffering and improving the lives of thousands of patients, families and caregivers over the years.

ORGANIZATION: Home Palliative Care Program of Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco
Home Palliative Care Program of Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco

Since they first began seeing patients in their homes, the Home Palliative Care Program of Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco has cared for more than 2,199 patients, with an average daily census of over 390.  This unique program grew out of an innovations grant from Kaiser Permanente, and was developed based on responses to telephone interviews with family members of patients who had died in the previous year. Rather than serving as a consultative palliative program, the Home Palliative Care Program assumes full responsibility for its patients and supports them in their final years of life.

The program provides primary care to homebound patients with a progressive disease.  The nurse practitioner becomes the patient’s primary provider AND case manager, visiting the patient and family at home and focusing on symptom management and anticipation of future health issues.  (The program was an early adopter of POLST.) The program provides on-going and in-depth discussions of disease trajectory and careful review of the patient’s and family’s wishes. Because program staff are frequently in the patient’s home, they are able to rapidly respond to changes in health status and provide treatment that meets the patient’s goals, often helping patients avoid unwanted hospitalization and emergency department visits. The program also has a high rate of referral to hospice programs.

There is no time limit for patients in the program, and they are able to tailor their visit frequency and intensity to the needs of the patient and their family.  The numbers speak for themselves – in 2017, 13.2% of Home Palliative Care patients died in the hospital, 10.3% died at home (not on hospice), and 76.4% died at home on hospice.

The program is fully integrated into the care provided at Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco, with referrals coming from all departments, from primary care providers to social workers and discharge planners. As a result, the Home Palliative Care program has decreased futile suffering and treatments, aligned care to patient and families wishes and improved end of life care for many patients.

INNOVATOR: Christine Ritchie, MD
Christine Ritchie, MD
University of California San Francisco

Dr. Christine Ritchie is a distinguished leader in the field of palliative care. Her many accomplishments are a reflection of her dedication to palliative care and focus in the areas of research, clinical care, policy and advocacy.  Her passion for improving the lives of seriously ill older adults is genuine and deeply personal.

Currently the Harris Fishbon Distinguished Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. Ritchie leads the division’s research in advanced illness. This includes work on care models, such as Home-Based Palliative Care and symptom burden in hyper-vulnerable populations, such as homeless older adults. She has developed and is growing an Optimizing Aging Registry to enroll older adults across California who may be interested in contributing as subjects in research on advanced illness and improving the lives of caregivers.

Nationally, she is an inaugural member of the National Institutes of Health-funded national Palliative Care Research Cooperative, and has co-authored or authored over 100 articles on advanced illness, multimorbidity and palliative care. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Palliative Medicine and serves on multiple boards and committees, including the Board of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and both the Public Policy and Research Committees of the American Academy of Homecare Physicians.

Far from an ivory tower academic, Dr. Ritchie is devoted to making real improvements in patient’s lives. She trained in clinical fields to serve these patients by doing an internal medicine residency, chief residency and geriatric fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and then became board certified in both Geriatrics and Palliative Care. Beyond her clinical work, she has a long track record of creating and improving clinical care delivery models to serve adults with palliative care needs. For example, in Alabama, she built and directed integrated health care programs that included medical house calls, and she created a highly successful clinical registry for managing patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in two health care systems.

In 2014, Dr. Ritchie served as co-chair of San Francisco’s Palliative Care Task Force, one of the first efforts in the country to bring together government, academia, medicine, and nonprofits to focus on improving palliative care in a city. Dr. Ritchie now serves as co-chair of the ongoing San Francisco Palliative Care Work Group.

She straddles the world of academia and health systems leadership, and ensures that all work is for the benefit of individuals in the community. Somehow, she also finds time to mentor and support the work of others in a deep and meaningful and selfless way. She is contributing significantly to building and sustaining the next generation of palliative care clinicians, advocates, program builders and researchers.

2017 Awardees

Susan Keller, MA, MLIS
Community Network for Appropriate Technologies
It would be hard to find a more tireless, long-serving advocate for palliative care, advance care planning and better end-of-life care in her community than Susan Keller. For nearly 40 years, Susan has dedicated herself both personally and professionally to advancing high quality, compassionate care for serious illness as an essential element of community health and health care improvement. For these reasons and many more, the committee selected Susan as the 2017 recipient of our Compassionate Care Leadership Award.

Nominated by the Steering Committee for My Care, My Plan: Speak Up Sonoma County (MCMP), an advance care planning community initiative that she helped to found and on which she still serves, we can see how Susan continues to dedicate her time and vast expertise to her passionate causes.

Beginning in 1978, Susan founded the Community Network for Appropriate Technologies (CNAT), where she serves as the Executive Director and works as a public interest planner, network developer, consumer advocate and educator. In the early 1990s, Susan launched the Community Network Journey Project to develop important programs in response to the lack of palliative care and community-based long-term care, and authored Journey to Life’s End: A Traveler’s Guide. In the past, Susan worked as a UCSF Clinical Instructor teaching advance care planning and palliative care for the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency Program from 2010-2015.

Susan has been working in collaboration with the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California since the late 1990s on numerous projects including work with RWJF Rallying Points Program and the Sonoma County POLST Coalition. She also serves as a consumer advocate on the California POLST Task Force and is currently spearheading a project to improve advance care planning and palliative care for people living with serious mental health challenges.

What they say about Susan:

“Since the early 1990s when I met Susan, she has advocated for and educated about the necessity of a palliative care health model and the importance of end-of-life care and conversations. Susan is the consummate community organizer who knows how to network with passion and develop resources to promote health and well-being.”  – Nina Arbour, Community Relations & Volunteer Services Manager, Hospice of Petaluma

“I am truly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to co-labor with this local legend. We’ve come a long way in Sonoma County with the My Care, My Plan campaign. A team player like Susan has been a constructive and tenacious advocate for the important details foundational to this program.”  – Dr. Tim Gieseke, Sonoma County Internist

“Susan has a huge heart and deeply cares for all those dealing with advanced illness and death. Through her creativity, policy work, and close community relationships she has made a difference in the lives of patients and their friends and families.”  – Rita Scardaci, Retired Director, Sonoma County Department of Health Services

ORGANIZATION: UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland Pediatric Palliative Care Program
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Pediatric Palliative Care Program
When it comes to pediatric palliative care, one program stands out as the standard-bearer and trailblazer. Formally established in 2011, the Pediatric Palliative Care (PPC) Program of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (Children’s) continues to lead the field.

Building their program specifically to decrease fragmentation and increase cooperation among the patient’s family and medical team, the PPC Program team works diligently to create partnerships that support a patient in multiple settings, including primary care, specialty clinics, the hospital and at home. This is all done with respect to the child, his or her family, and their collective wishes and needs.

The PPC Program’s mission is to provide expert pain and symptom management, psycho-social and spiritual support, assistance with advance care planning and access to community resources. Using a specialized interdisciplinary team of a physician, nurse and social worker, the program provides this extra layer of support for the child, family and the treating teams. This is done using telephone support, as well as in-person meetings. The team works to facilitate continuity of care among the hospital and the community partners, to best ensure the comfort of the child and family.

At the outset of the program, much education and groundwork had to be done to prepare community organizations and providers to care for child patients. As such, education and training for colleagues across all disciplines and the community was, and continues to be, a large part of the work of the PPC Program. From their End-of-Life Nursing Education Curriculum for Pediatric Palliative Care Course (ELNEC-PPC) to organizing two conferences with national renown, the program continues to lead the conversation on pediatric palliative care. Today the palliative care team has an average census of 18-20 inpatients and close to 300 outpatients all at different stages of their journey. Patients are increasingly being referred earlier in their disease trajectory, allowing for stronger relationship building, the ability to help families identify goals of care and assistance with traversing the complicated health care system–all to provide the best possible care for every child and family.

INNOVATOR: Sandy Chen Stokes, RN, PHN, MSN
Sandy Chen Stokes, RN, PHN, MSN
Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care
Thanks to Sandy Chen Stokes, Chinese Americans in California are able to face the end of life with dignity, respect and culturally congruent care they may not otherwise have. For more than 11 years, Sandy has dedicated her time and love to building the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care (CACCC – the only network in the U.S. devoted to addressing the end-of-life concerns of the Chinese-American Community). A long-time advocate for advance care planning and compassionate end-of-life care, Sandy provides workshops and seminars nationwide for health providers (physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and medical interpreters), hospice and palliative care volunteers, and for the Chinese community. For this reason, she is the recipient of the 2017 Compassionate Care Innovator Award.

Sandy founded CACCC in 2005, motivated to help Chinese Americans to talk about and prepare for death, which is considered bad luck for most Chinese. Since then, the organization has continued to grow and serve thousands of Chinese Americans. CACCC’s workshops and seminars focus on Chinese American end-of-life issues, including advance care planning, spiritual care at the end of life, cultural beliefs and practices regarding end of life, and the role of medical interpreters in hospice and palliative care. CACCC now has more than 1,300 individual members and 80 organizational members working to improve end-of-life care services and resources for Chinese Americans. From developing and translating numerous end-of-life resources like the Heart to Heart® cards and Chinese POLST forms, to recruiting and training an army of hospice and palliative care volunteers, to giving hundreds of trainings to educate healthcare professionals who serve Chinese Americans, Sandy’s efforts, and those of the CACCC under her direction, have impacted many lives across the state.

Sandy has focused on end-of-life care, elder care and mental health issues in the Chinese-American community for much of her career. In 2008, Sandy received the American Cancer Society’s Lane Adams Award for her work with the CACCC. Three years later, she received the 2011 AARP Inspire Award. She sits on the Advisory Board for the Chinese Health Initiative at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and the Diversity Advisory Council for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

What they say about Sandy:
“I truly admire Sandy’s courage, dedication and leadership to establish and develop CACCC. I am very confident that Sandy Chen Stokes is the most deserving candidate for this award.” – Shirley Pan, Executive Director, CACCC

“Sandy’s unending energy is apparent to anybody who has met her. The list of accomplishments her group has received is evidence of her energy and enthusiasm. CACCC has established itself as the national leader for advocacy for end of life care for Chinese Americans. On the basis of their reputation, CACCC has been invited to support those efforts even here on the East Coast, with activities now in New York. Sandy has the unique combination of energy, enthusiasm, leadership skills, and humility which makes her a joy and honor to work with her. I fully endorse her nomination.” – Angelo E. Volandes, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School

2016 Awardees

INDIVIDUAL: Gary Johanson, MD
Gary Johanson, MDGary Johanson, MD
St. Joseph Health Sonoma County / Annadel Medical Group
For over 30 years, Dr. Johanson has been an esteemed leader, caring physician and tireless community advocate for advance care planning and quality palliative care for people with serious illnesses.A leading palliative care physician, Dr. Johanson has developed and led high-quality palliative and hospice care systems and services in Sonoma County. He is Medical Director of Palliative Care Services and Memorial Hospice at St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County, where his vision and commitment provided the inspiration and guidance for creating a palliative specialty unit and inpatient palliative care program.He is widely known as a driving force for bringing awareness of palliative care to the healthcare community. He has generously worked to educate, promote, and expand advance care planning and quality palliative care through countless trainings, presentations, and publications. He has been actively involved in Sonoma County’s Committee for Healthcare Improvement and its palliative care initiative, the Sonoma County POSLT Coalition, Journey Project Coalition, and My Care, My Plan: Speak Up Sonoma County.Dr. Johanson is a board certified family practice physician with special qualifications in hospice and palliative care medicine. He is a founding member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM). He established himself as a key resource and expert in end-of-life care with his publication of the Clinicians Handbook of Symptom Relief in Palliative Care, a widely distributed practical reference for healthcare providers treating symptoms in patients approaching the end of life.

What they say about Gary:

“Gary is an exceptional leader who has consistently contributed his expertise, dedication and advocacy to improve care for people who are seriously ill or approaching the end of life.”  – Mary Maddux-Gonzalez, MD, MPH, Redwood Community Health Coalition

“His calm approach and his ability to meet patients and families where they are in the grieving process allow him to build relationships that value justice, service, excellence, and dignity.His many years of experience and gentle demeanor support families to be able to hear difficult messages and experience true compassionate care.”  – Todd Salnas, St. Joseph Health

“Gary has devoted his passion, time and energy to people with serious and terminal illness over a long and productive career. He is a true leader who has made a difference in the way we provide care to some of our most seriously ill and vulnerable citizens. He has made a profound difference in the lives of thousands of patients, families, and caregivers.”  – Brad Stuart, MD

ORGANIZATION: Threshold Choir
Threshold Choir Threshold Choir

Threshold Choir sings for and with those at the threshold of life and death. A calm and focused presence, with gentle voices, simple songs, and sincere kindness helps soothe and reassure patients, family members, and caregivers facing life-threatening illnesses or nearing the end of life.

With its own unique culture and patient care delivery model, Threshold Choir contributes to the care of individuals with serious illness through bedside singing. Choir members sing softly with calming rhythms and encouraging words in an act of presence with patients and their families at a significant and challenging stage of life.

Founded in 2000 in Berkeley, California, with a group of 15 voices, the Threshold Choir has grown into a national and international network of a cappella choirs with over 120 chapters and 1,300 members. Though rooted in their local communities, each Threshold Choir chapter shares a repertoire of beautiful, meaningful, and soothing songs and a desire to provide comfort and peace to those nearing life’s threshold.

What they say about Threshold Choir:

“Over the past 15 years, three to four lovely women from the Threshold Choir have showed up at our front door twice a week to offer the gift of song to the residents living with terminal illness in our Guest House. They only stay a short while, but they leave behind a lasting impression on both residents and caregivers; we are all healed by their wholehearted presence.”  – BJ Miller, MD, Zen Hospice Project

 “I have many beautiful memories of the performances given by Threshold Choir over the years… their impact reaches across and within our palliative and hospice communities and also beyond those borders.”  – Nate Hinerman, PhD, University of San Francisco

“It takes more than a village to help our struggling culture relearn how to respect and value the act of dying. The Threshold Choir has been a leader in this area, helping people who are scared and confused by the death of a loved one learn to hold on to what is precious, and let go of what is not needed, and use their voices to create a healing community—in a moment and over time.”  – Redwing Keyssar, RN, Seniors at Home

Learn more about the Leadership Awards criteria here.

Thank you to the California HealthCare Foundation for sponsoring the the Compassionate Care Leadership Awards honorarium and travel expenses.

Kate O’Malley, RN, MS, CHPN Kate O'Malley

It is safe to say that advance care planning and palliative care in California would not be nearly as advanced or of such high quality, and that hundreds of thousands of seriously-ill patients and their families would not have the access to the compassionate care that they have today, without the dedication and efforts of Kate O’Malley.

For the past 11 years, Kate has served as a senior program officer with California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) where she manages projects focused on improving care and lowering system costs for high-cost populations, especially toward the end of life. In philanthropy, Kate has integrated her experience in nursing, geriatrics, education and project management to improve palliative care access and end-of-life care in California.

From the very early days of POLST implementation, through the current efforts to launch an electronic POLST registry, Kate has served as one of the POLST program’s most important cheerleaders, facilitators and supporters. Countless important palliative care projects have been initiated and successfully completed due to Kate’s leadership at a state level. She is someone who generates ideas and creates partnerships and alliances, and her inclusive, generous style of leadership has had a lasting impact on the field of palliative care in California.

Some of Kate’s professional highlights include working with World Health Organization experts to develop a nursing curriculum for Kenya, traveling through central California as a mobile health clinic nurse, visiting elders in their homes in San Francisco’s Chinatown, working with national health care teams to spread the On Lok model, and organizing the “Culture Change Caravan” bus tour.

What they say about Kate:

In California we are blessed to have many superb leaders in palliative care and through collaborative effort to have one of the most advanced, progressive and active states when it comes to promoting palliative care. One big reason for the success of these efforts and for their number and effectiveness is the support, guidance, and leadership of Kate O’Malley.”  – Steven Pantilat, MD, UCSF

Kate is known to all professionally in our state as a staunch supporter of this field, and her advocacy has been critical to the progress in our state. She is consistently dedicated to the highest quality, to networking and mentorship so that the field can expand to meet the enormous demands.”  – Betty Ferrell, PhD, RN, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN, City of Hope

“Over our many years of working together on projects related to POLST, advance care planning and quality care for the seriously ill, I have seen first-hand that Kate’s passion for this work comes from her deep desire to improve the lives of others.”  – Judy Thomas, JD, Coalition for Compassionate Care of California

2015 Awardees

INDIVIDUAL: Judith Redwing Keyssar, RN
Judith Redwing Keyssar, RNJudith Redwing Keyssar, RN

Seniors At Home
Jewish Family and Children’s Services
Redwing Keyssar, RN, has over 25 years of experience in oncology, critical care, and palliative and end of life care. She is an author, a teacher, a national presenter, and a frequent contributor to the public debate about palliative care. In 2007, Redwing joined with the Jewish Family and Children’s Services to establish the Palliative Care End-of-Life Care Program (PEOL), as an expansion of its continuum of senior services. The PEOL is one of the only community-based interdisciplinary palliative care teams that functions under a social service model, as opposed to a medical model – and is available to anyone in the community, not just hospital patients.

Redwing has also played a major role in development of the California State University Institute for Palliative Care to address the educational needs of the current healthcare workforce as well as future healthcare professionals. Her book, Last Acts of Kindness: Lessons for the Living from the Bedsides of the Dying, won a 2011 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year award.

ORGANIZATION: Collabria Care
Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day ServicesOrganization Award
Collabria Care

Formerly known as Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services

Napa, California
Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services (NVHADS) is committed to providing exceptional health care and expert resources as they care for the whole person and their family – body, mind, and spirit – through chronic conditions, illness, death and bereavement. NVHADS provides services through an array of preventative healthcare programs, targeted services assisting Napa County’s most underserved populations, and partnerships with other community organizations. NVHADS has increased the dialogue around end-of-life issues, improved patient experiences and outcomes, raised awareness and influenced attitudes about palliative care in Napa County. In their 36th year of service, they remain steadfast in their commitment to providing the most compassionate and professional care to those in need, and to continuing their community leadership role through education and innovation.

INNOVATOR: Kathy Glasmire
Kathy GlasmireKathy Glasmire

Center for Healthcare Decisions
For more than 30 years, Kathy Glasmire has been a leader in engaging the public in advance care planning (ACP) and promoting quality, compassionate end-of-life care. During her career, Kathy set the tone for local coalition and public engagement activities in California. For many of us, she was a mentor who taught us the real meaning of public engagement. She also played a key leadership role during CCCC’s early years.

From 1997 to her recent retirement in 2014, Kathy was associate director of the Center for Healthcare Decisions, where she played a primary role in many innovative initiatives. These included Partners in Caring, an annual seminar for faith leaders, which is serving as a model for CCCC’s faith leader outreach, as well as ACP workshops for senior and healthcare organizations and a lunch-and-learn program for the workplace. Kathy was also responsible for developing ACP materials such as Finding Your Way and the Talking It Over discussion guide, and coordinating a Sacramento coalition to promote ACP and implement POLST. Read more…

2014 Awardees

image of Dr. Jeff Yee

Jeff Yee, MD

Woodland Healthcare
Woodland, California
For over 20 years at Woodland Healthcare, Dr. Yee has provided comprehensive, compassionate care to seriously-ill and medically-fragile adults. He cares for patients across the continuum of care – in clinics, the hospital, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and in the home. In addition to being the physician leader of Woodland’s Palliative Care Program, Dr. Yee is a leader of Yolo County’s POLST coalition and an advocate for advance care planning. As a POLST physician champion, he has developed a range of POLST training materials for healthcare professionals and has provided POLST education to more than 300 medical staff.

He continues to work within Woodland Healthcare and the local community to promote quality care, with coordinated transitions of care for his patients. In addition, he focuses on developing collaborative and team approaches to care in order to benefit patients and families.

The Coalition for Compassionate Care is proud to recognize Dr. Yee as a leader in providing comprehensive, compassionate care to seriously-ill adults, promoting advance care planning and implementing POLST in Yolo County and throughout the state.

ORGANIZATION: Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance
image of Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance staff

Palliative Care Team
Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance

Torrance, California
The Palliative Care Team at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance is leading the way in innovative palliative care including pediatric care, education and nurturing whole person care for the patients, families, community and providers. The work that Dr. Glen Komatsu, Chief Medical Director for the Palliative care Team, and his staff are doing in education, training and outreach is truly innovative and has the ability to transform palliative care. In addition, their program is driving significant change within the culture of Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center.

Their work includes launching an Institute for Palliative Care Education to address requests for education and training and are planning future trainings for subspecialty palliative care teams as well as general community education on advance care planning. The Institute is also used to train volunteers for the No One Dies Alone program – a program where volunteers serve as bedside companions to patients with no family available.

The Coalition for Compassionate Care would like to recognize the Dr. Komatsu and his team for their work to provide quality, compassionate care to both seriously-ill children and adults and to improve and expand palliative care throughout their community.

INNOVATOR: Betsy Carpenter
image of Betsy Carpenter

Betsy Carpenter

Portola Valley, California
Betsy Carpenter has dedicated much of her life to promoting advance healthcare directives, the legal document that explicitly states and individual’s desires for end-of-life treatment. Betsy’s passion stems from intimate personal experiences with the deaths of loved ones and a personal battle with node-positive breast cancer. She has served as a Kara grief counselor – Kara provides grief support for children, teens, families and adults – and has worked to promote advance directives at El Camino Hospital. Betsy has given hundreds of presentations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and has been a volunteer lecturer on advance care planning and ethical decision making at the end of life at Stanford Medical School.

Betsy is widely recognized by physicians, nurses and members of the community for her depth of knowledge about palliative care and her passion for and skill in compassionate end-of-life planning. The Coalition for Compassionate Care would like to recognize Betsy Carpenter as a tireless advocate, educator and counselor for advance care planning and palliative care and the impact she has made in her community.

2013 Awardees

INDIVIDUAL: Sister Elizabeth Davis, SNJM
Image of Sister Elizabeth

Sister Elizabeth Davis, SNJM

Mercy Retirement & Care Center
Oakland, California
Residents and staff at Mercy Retirement and Care Center have known Sister Liz, as she is called, for more than 19 years. During that time, she has provided a caring presence for the residents who are seriously ill or approaching the end of life – as well as their families. Sister Liz has been instrumental in developing the Palliative Care Program at the Mercy Center, and the Palliative Care Certificate program for staff.

ORGANIZATION: Laguna Honda Palliative Care & Hospice Program
an group photograph of the Laguna Honda Staff

Laguna Honda Palliative Care & Hospice Program

Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center
San Francisco, California
Laguna Honda Palliative Care & Hospice has transformed end-of-life care in the San Francisco Bay Area, served as a training site for hundreds of healthcare professionals and introduced the concepts of hospice and palliative care to an urban nursing home that serves economically disadvantaged and culturally diverse populations. In its nearly 25-year history, the program has been a model for programs around the state and the nation.

INNOVATOR: Joanne Hatchett, RN, MS, FNP
Joanne HatchettJoanne Hatchett, RN, MS, FNP
Woodland Healthcare
Woodland, California
Joanne Hatchett is a talented and skilled clinician, dedicated educator, and a palliative care pioneer in her community. Joanne has single-handedly had the largest impact of any individual on POLST education in California.

In her local community, she developed and now coordinates the Bridge Program for Palliative Care, an interdisciplinary program for chronically ill patients in Yolo County. This program provides advance care planning and pain and symptom management to hospitalized and nursing home patients as well as chronically ill outpatients. On a statewide basis, Joanne has made major contributions in the area POLST education. Her greatest contribution, however, was creation of the standardized POLST curriculum. This curriculum is used by CCCC to teach healthcare professionals about POLST and how to have “the conversation.” Through her efforts both as a curriculum author and as faculty for the trainings, over 600 POLST trainers have been given the tools to spread POLST throughout the state.

The Coalition for Compassionate Care would like to recognize Joanne Hatchett for her work to provide quality, compassionate care to the seriously ill and for developing tools and resources to expand palliative care throughout the state and the nation.

2012 Awardees

an image of Dr. Mahdi with a big bushy mustache

Terek Mahdi, MD, CMD, FAAFP

Inland Empire Palliative Care Coalition
Riverside, California
Dr. Mahdi was one of the first healthcare professionals in California to recognize the vital role that Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) could play in improving end-of-life care and has been a leader in the movement to make it a reality in our state since 2005. He has worked tirelessly to implement POLST throughout California – and especially in the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties). Dr. Mahdi also established the Inland Empire Palliative Care Coalition in 2006 as part of his efforts to improve care for the seriously ill, bringing together palliative care practitioners from throughout the region.

ORGANIZATION: George Mark Children’s House
an image of the George Marks Children's House

George Mark Children’s House

San Leandro, California
George Mark Children’s House is the first freestanding, independent pediatric palliative care facility in the United States. George Mark Children’s House exists to serve families with children who have a serious medical illness and who are seeking family-centered medical care that emphasizes quality of life in a compassionate, supportive atmosphere. They strive to be an extension of the child’s own home: a place where kids can be kids and families can be families.