2016 Stories

Our donors make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients and caregivers every day. We see tens of thousands of patients each year, cared for by thousands of dedicated and passionate caregivers – each of whom has a story tell and an experience they will remember. Please take a minute to read of a few of the stories that demonstrate why everyone at Providence is so devoted to our mission.

Holy Cross

Care and Comfort to Say Goodbye

For Santa Clarita’s Stephen Dixon and his family, Holy Cross served as a safe and caring place where they could say good-bye to Brenda – wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

Steve knew his wife’s battle with cancer had weakened her when he took her to the emergency room in February. Brenda, 61, had been diagnosed four years earlier with aggressive stage-four breast cancer, which had metastasized to the bone. There had been other trips to the emergency room, but Steve knew this one was different. It was still a shock to hear the doctor say Brenda’s condition had significantly worsened and she was nearing the end-of-life.

Brenda was given a large room on the oncology floor so her family and friends could visit and be comfortable. A group from The Master’s College came to sing and pray for her. Brenda was a gifted musician and taught music at the college. She loved making an investment in the lives of young people.

Perhaps Brenda’s greatest joy was the presence of six month-old grandbaby Isaiah. “Some of the nurses who had previously cared for Brenda came to see her,” says Steve. “The hospital was so cooperative and Brenda was calm and peaceful. Holy Cross is just a great place to get medical assistance, and in our case, a great place to say good-bye.”

Studies show most Americans would like to spend their final days at home, surrounded by those they love. At Holy Cross, compassionate care doesn’t end when a treatment is unsuccessful. Comforting patients at their most vulnerable point in life is a natural extension of the Providence mission.

“It is an honor to care for families like the Dixons. Their experience demonstrates how palliative care can take a very unsettling and stressful time and transition it into a time of shared encounters with love, laughter and tears.”


Holy Cross

Multi-generational Family of Caregivers

Considering how many of her family members have pursued careers in medicine, one might have expected Dr. Marwa Kilani’s interest to land on genetics instead of palliative care.

Not only is medicine in the genes for Dr. Kilani’s family, practicing at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is a family tradition as well.

Her parents came to Southern California from Egypt to complete their graduate studies. They moved to Northridge soon after and both took medical technology jobs at Providence Holy Cross. Dr. Kilani’s mother, Wagih, developed the trauma center blood bank with her mentor, Otto Klinger, MD. Their working relationship developed into a lifelong friendship; Dr. Klinger became a part of Dr. Kilani’s extended relations, and the notions of family, medicine and Providence Holy Cross continually mingled and reinforced the direction of her career path.

Dr. Kilani’s childhood memories dwell strongly around visits with Dr. Klinger in her home, and hearing him speak with her parents about the practice of medicine. He was a powerful influence on her, helping to instill the idea that medicine was her destiny and Providence Holy Cross was her home away from home.

Dr. Kilani’s husband, an endocrinologist who she met while they were in school, was offered an opportunity to practice at Providence Holy Cross and it seemed a fitting and auspicious prospect. And when Dr. Kilani was offered the chance to return to Providence Holy Cross as part of the team that was expanding the hospital’s palliative care practice, the decision was as joyful as it was obvious. Dr. Kilani could return to her roots – alongside her husband, and in the footsteps of her parents and Dr. Klinger.

Her decision has placed her in the path of one of the most exciting and burgeoning fields of medicine. Palliative and hospice care is receiving a tremendous amount of national attention, and is a focus of intense interest within the Providence system. “I feel privileged to work in this field of medicine, and I am so grateful for all the philanthropic support we receive from the Foundation and its donors,” said Dr. Kilani.

This is an area of medicine that is not procedurally based and, therefore, does not lend itself to a lot of reimbursement in the existing billing models that doctors must observe. Consequently, it requires a great deal of operational support – and support from visionary donors. “We don’t do a lot of ‘treatment,’ but we spend a lot of our time working with patients, providing advice and help, along with spiritual care and social work,” added Dr. Kilani. “Philanthropy and support from other partners is extremely important for this reason.”

As to whether there will continue to be a family member practicing at Providence Holy Cross in the future, Dr. Kilani recounts with amusement a recent conversation with one of her seven-year-old twin boys. Upon learning that “professional Lego builder” isn’t a likely career path, her son relented and declared, “Then I guess I’ll be a doctor.” A third generation of Kilanis may be rounding in the halls sooner than we think.


Holy Cross

Saving Brain By Saving Time

Two alarms went off one recent morning in Michele Krieg’s bedroom – the one next to her bed and another one in her head.

She had a terrifying experience that would ultimately require close to five months of specialized care to make a full recovery.

Upon waking that morning she described feeling like she was caught between a dreaming and waking state; unlike any prior experience. Her disorientation was actually brought on by a stroke that she suffered in her sleep. It wasn’t until her husband tried to rouse her that they both realized something was terribly wrong.

Compounding the rising panic was their discovery that Michele could neither speak, nor could she control the muscles in her face to even open her mouth. Although a number of her motor and cognitive functions were affected by the stroke, the greatest damage was to the part of her brain that controlled language skills.

Fortunately for Michele, paramedics rushed her to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center for treatment. Because she received emergency care at a Designated Stroke Center within the optimum window of time, her condition improved and she regained her motor functions. However, her language skills were a different matter and required much more intensive therapy.

Although critical brain function can be severely impacted by the loss of blood flow during a stroke, the brain can often mount an equally dramatic recovery over time and with the right rehabilitation techniques. And that’s where speech and language therapist Barbara Lange stepped in to help Michele.

Barbara started working with Michele right away and literally began with the basics of our language – the sounds that letters make, vocabulary and how to form a sentence. Barbara’s therapy was like a full-time job for Michele. She devoted her entire day to relearning her native tongue.

Michele learned the hard way that surviving a trauma like a stroke can be just the first step to restoring your quality of life. She readily acknowledges that she could not have regained what she lost without Barbara’s help. In turn, Barbara credits Michele’s positive attitude and drive for her success.

Barbara has helped to start a regional network for similar, active stroke survivors who can socialize, attend educational lectures and join outdoor activities with people who are dealing with the same challenges they are. Michele is looking forward to being a part of that group.

Michele worked as a fire inspector before her stroke so Barbara tasked her with completing a mock fire inspection as the finale to her rehabilitation program. After 4½ months away from work, Michele passed her “inspection” and was ready to return.


San Pedro Torrance

A Career in Medicine and a History of Philanthropy

Dr. Phyllis Monroe has a unique perspective on the impact of philanthropy at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro.

Dr. Phyllis Monroe has a unique perspective on the impact of philanthropy at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro from her vantage point as a physician, donor and Community Ministry Board Member.

As an advocate for community health, practitioner of Internal medicine and supporter of the Providence Little Company of Mary Foundation, she sees the importance of philanthropy from every dimension.

Her journey to San Pedro quite literally began where it ended. Dr. Monroe grew up in Palos Verdes and graduated from Marymount High School – back when it was a high school. She attended college at Stanford University, and then at Yale where she met her husband who was on the faculty in cardiology. An opportunity for him to practice cardiology in San Pedro led to their relocation here and to Dr. Monroe’s return to her roots.

Her career began at Martin Luther King Medical Center but an opportunity to help start the Family Practice Residency at San Pedro in 1978 was a fortuitous opportunity that she wholeheartedly embraced. Dr. Monroe recalls that there was a tremendous sense of community involvement in the medical center’s success when she joined. “It was just a given that the community supported the hospital,” she recalls.

“We are the only hospital in a geographically confined space so we serve the needs of many people – and we provide a lot of uncompensated care,” Dr. Monroe says. “Whether you are a resident, a port worker or someone passing through, we are going to be your first contact for a range of illnesses and accidents.”

Dr. Monroe remembers a difficult time in the 1980s when the hospital experienced financial difficulties. The experience highlighted for her the importance of philanthropic support and a sustained community involvement. That brush with fiscal distress made it clear that the hospital’s survival is directly connected with its philanthropic success.

That realization reinforced her desire to be a more active donor and representative of the hospital’s role in supporting community health. Dr. Monroe finds that the most important conversation you can have with patients about philanthropy is the first one. “It’s important to be grateful, but it can be difficult to talk to people about it in a way that connects their gratitude with the impulse to be generous to the hospital,” she says. “We need to show patients how to be grateful.”

There is a direct link between the success of the physicians in our community and the success of the hospital. You have to have an Emergency Room, inpatient beds, and medical specialists – all the things that the hospital makes possible. “If you’re going to have outstanding service lines and programs – like a rehab center, for instance, philanthropy from grateful patients is important to being successful in that effort,” Dr. Monroe says.

“Giving back is, to me, like a duty fulfilled,” adds Dr. Monroe. “We are just doing what we can to ensure that the hospital will always be there for new members of the community.”


San Pedro Torrance

Daily Rewards for an Enthusiastic Career Choice

Throughout her life, Vanessa Benitez gravitated toward career choices that would allow her to be of service to people.

After considering a number of options that she hoped would fulfill her needs, she discovered that nursing allowed her to find the perfect balance of critical thinking, lifelong learning and the ability to care for her community on a very personal level.

“As we learned about the different organ systems during nursing school, I became fascinated by the workings of the cardiovascular system; how the heart was the center of the body and life, and how it can succumb to disease and often be the cause of our demise,” says Vanessa. During her nursing rotations she thoroughly enjoyed her time in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. She was drawn to the intensity and challenge, and realized how she could apply her passion for learning about the heart to educating and caring for patients with heart disease.

Caring for individuals with heart disease has been a truly rewarding experience for Vanessa, one that she continues to learn from. She practiced for nearly 14 years as a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit nurse before becoming the coordinator for our Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement program (TAVR). Vanessa coordinates care for particularly vulnerable patients who undergo a procedure that is not only life-saving, but can significantly improve their quality of life. As recently as a few years ago, these same patients were too sick or at too high-risk to undergo traditional open-heart surgery. Little Company of Mary’s leadership in this procedure is offering countless people new hope right here in our community. 

Early on Vanessa realized that Providence Little Company of Mary is a very special place; a hospital that is truly driven by its mission and where every staff member stands behind the quality of their work. She feels truly honored to be a part of this hospital’s service to its community.

Reflecting on her time at our ministry, Vanessa treasures all of the experiences she has had with her patients and their loved ones. “I have met many patients, families and wonderful caretakers who have all contributed to my experiences over the years,” she recounts. “They have all in some way guided my practice and, happily, validated my decision to choose medicine.”


Saint Joseph

Baby Bobby’s Story of Survival

Last November our Labor & Delivery Unit brought baby Bobby into the world. Sadly, he was delivered prematurely at 22.6 weeks.

He weighed just 535 grams – barely more than one pound – when he was admitted to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). On a day that should have been filled with joy for his parents, they instead were told that their son’s chances for survival were about 1-in-50.

Nevertheless, our remarkable NICU team did everything they could for Bobby, helping him to strengthen and improve. For the first week of his life he responded well to treatment, but the next several weeks were filled with setbacks. Bobby’s will to live was strong, and after three months in the NICU his parents were able to hold him for the first time; his condition had improved enough that his fragile body could finally be handled.

Bobby was fending off so many problems in his lungs, kidneys, digestive tract and other areas; but neurologically he was alert and active – a positive sign that things might turn around. His parents were nearly full-time residents in the NICU. For three months they had spent all their time by Bobby’s side and, when they had to return to work, they spent the evenings with him.

In month four he officially laid claim to that 1-in-50 chance of survival – it was no longer a question of “if” he would go home, but “when?” The answer came after five months when Bobby’s parents, who could barely express the extent of their gratitude, took Bobby home.

Bobby is a testament to the miracles that can happen, but also to the exceptional care that PSJ caregivers provide to every one of our patients. This is the work we are called to do, and stories like Bobby’s are one reason we love to do it.


Saint Joseph

A Family Tradition of Service and Generosity

Hospitals hear the call to serve their community in many different ways.

Some people may seek our help one time and never need to return, while others create lasting bonds and invite us to journey through their lifetimes together. One family that has so deeply touched this medical center is that of Javier and Maria Uribe.

As a young couple in the late 1960s, Javier and Maria came to Los Angeles to start a family and build their business. We met them under the happiest of circumstances – when Maria delivered their three children here. The happiness of new life is a gift to all those who share in its splendor.

In the years since then our lives have further entwined. Their children and grandchildren have had their fair share of visits to the emergency room for the hazards common to youth. Javier and Maria have doctors here whose trusted care and advice have helped to keep them healthy and active.

Maria’s life became more formally involved with the medical center when she agreed to join the Providence Saint Joseph Foundation Board of Governors in 1992, as well as the Providence Health & Services Board of Directors in 2008. Her personal commitment to the hospital as a donor and a volunteer evolved into an active role in creating a vision for Providence Saint Joseph. Her service continues to this day and, in fact, she is joined by her daughter, Teresa, who serves with her on the Board of Governors.

Community hospitals do not merely serve our neighborhoods, they are comprised of the very households, businesses and institutions that give us strength and purpose. Javier and Maria Uribe placed in us their trust and passion, and offered to us their support, their energy and their vision. We are blessed to count them among our leaders, and are honored to have been invited into their family.


Saint Joseph

Investing in the Health of Future Generations

Michael Parker likens the responsibility of investing and sustaining a family-run business with that of supporting the future of Providence Saint Joseph.

Michael Parker likens the responsibility of investing and sustaining a family-run business – like the movie and stage lighting manufacturer passed to him and his siblings by their grandfather – with that of supporting the future of Providence Saint Joseph to ensure that it will be protected for future generations. The comparison not only reflects the deeply personal commitment that is involved in such dedication, but the high stakes that are shared by both situations.

Michael’s family joined Saint Francis de Sales parish in Sherman Oaks and his earliest memories are of the lessons taught to him by the nuns and priests there. He was enrolled in their first Kindergarten class in 1949 and learned his values through church teachings. His family remains involved and devoted to this day, but the values that were given to him by his parents and reinforced at Saint Frances de Sales are what guided him to Providence Saint Joseph.

Michael has been involved with Providence Saint Joseph for more than a decade. “As a businessperson – and the owner of a three-generation family business, I know that making decisions that sustain organizations for the long-term is important and something I understand,” he said. “When we invest today, it’s for our children and grandchildren. If we’re good stewards, these institutions are going to be here for future generations.”

His mother was a lifetime guild member, and Michael has vivid memories of her attending meetings, card parties and fashion shows, and recounting the times she spent working on the hospital floor. Today, Michael continues the tradition she began by serving on the Providence Saint Joseph Foundation Board of Governors and chairing the Providence Heritage 100 Fund Committee, which is tasked with raising money to pay for needs that aren’t already in the hospital’s budget.

Michael sees his commitment to Providence Saint Joseph is an extension of his responsibility to his community. “I don’t have the resources to get involved with every charity; I have to focus on the ones that are most important to me which are my church, my school and my hospital,” Michael added. “I feel good about being generous in general, both with my time and money.”

Although Michael recalls having his tonsils removed here when he was five years old, it was more recently that he became patient as an adult and could see firsthand how his investment had directly translated into high quality, compassionate care. A staph infection led to a four-month medical journey that necessitated redoing a hip replacement. The multiple surgeries and rehabilitation all took place at Providence Saint Joseph, and showed Michael and his family members how our unique brand of compassionate service makes the care experience very different from other providers.

“Providence Saint Joseph is very humble and doesn’t flaunt its expertise. But once you experience the care here, you immediately understand the difference.” With a touch of sentimentalism, Michael added, “The sisters gave us the responsibility to preserve, sustain and support Providence Saint Joseph, and that’s why I want to stay involved.”


Tarzana

Josiah Newbold and his Extremely Rare Illness.

Four-month-old Josiah Newbold contracted an illness that only 100 people on the planet get each year, making him an extremely rare statistic when he was exposed to pediatric botulism.

It’s a difficult disease to identify, and at hospitals that don’t have a pediatric specialty it’s not uncommon for the diagnosis to take weeks.

When Josiah’s mother brought him to our ER it quickly became apparent that he needed to go to our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Doctors and nurses ran a series of tests to determine the problem, but the only test that confirms botulism takes 3-5 days to produce a result. Complicating the matter, there is a drug that can quickly cure pediatric botulism, but it has to be given shortly after exposure in order to work.

Giving the drug without knowing for sure that Josiah had botulism would not normally be a problem, except that this drug costs $45,000 for the one dose he needed. His insurance company would not pay for it if it turned out that botulism wasn’t the culprit, so administering it in the window of time to be effective required Providence Tarzana to assume the financial risk.

Dr. Cesar Chavarria and Josiah’s care team became convinced he had botulism and pressed for the single-dose cure – which Providence Tarzana obtained within the time limit. Four days later the standard diagnostic test showed he had pediatric botulism, but by then he was well on the way to recovery.

“I just can’t say enough about how well Josiah was treated and how kind everyone was to me and Heather,” said Josiah’s father, Brad Newbold. “We trusted in the doctors, we trusted in God, and we knew everything was going to work out.”


Tarzana

Mom’s Parenting Skills Save Her Husband

Daniel Edber is alive today thanks to his wife learning CPR at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in 2010, and thanks to his three-year-old son who is the reason his wife learned CPR in the first place.

The Edbers are a testament to how adversity can lead to a renewed celebration of life, and their experiences reflect the compassionate care we strive to provide for all of our patients and their families.

Daniel and Sari Edber found out in 2010 why Providence Tarzana is the best pediatric hospital in the San Fernando Valley when their son was born prematurely and spent 100 days in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). At 1 lb. 15 ounces he could be cradled in your palm, but he had a huge amount of fight in him. His doctors and nurses surrounded the Edbers with the round-the-clock attention that young parents need to feel safe and reassured.

When it was time to take their son home, their caregivers explained that Sari would need to learn CPR as a precaution. She took the course with the hope that she would never need to use it on her baby. She only got part of her wish.

Very early in the morning on June 19 of this year, Sari was awakened by the sound of Daniel aspirating; liquid was filling his lungs and his heart was being deprived of oxygen. It was impossible for Sari to know how long he’d been in that condition but she knew he needed immediate help. She called 911 and began CPR on Daniel – using the training she received years earlier when she took her son home from the NICU.

With the reassuring voice of the 911 operator on the speakerphone, Sari adjusted the technique she learned to suit the needs of adult CPR. Paramedics reached the Edbers’ home in five minutes – some of the longest minutes of Sari’s life, but the EMTs said that her CPR efforts made all the difference in Daniel’s chances for survival. She would later find out that had she started CPR even one minute later, it would have been too late.

The crisis continued for weeks as Daniel’s care team did everything possible to save his life and protect all of his functions. Therapeutic hypothermia reduced his body temperature and protected his brain, and a full array of treatments helped to stabilize his condition. Just as important to Sari, the Providence Tarzana caregivers that had made her feel so safe and secure in the NICU once again rushed in to support and reassure her in the cardiac unit.

When he emerged from an induced coma, Daniel was still Daniel. Soon after, he was transferred to Providence Saint Joseph’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Burbank for a few days of therapy before going home. Indeed, Daniel made a full recovery faster than his doctors had expected.

Sari is philosophical about their experiences at Providence Tarzana over the years. She says that when your family faces these crises again and again, you come to terms with the fragility of life and have a greater appreciation for the gift that each new day brings. She also learned to have complete confidence in the medical teams here, which gave her the courage to believe that her son, and then her husband, would fully recover.


Tarzana

Planning Ahead to Make a Charitable Impact

Mel Sofian has been fortunate to see the breadth of the world through his many travels and 12 years living in Singapore, as well as its many changes over the course of his 93 years.

As an electrical engineer specializing in industrial process control, his skills were in high demand and he split his career between Asia and the United States.

For those who have ever purchased the U.S. postage stamp that features Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Tarzan creator and inspiration for the name Tarzana, Mel is the individual primarily credited for the idea and its issuance.

Mel and his family returned from Singapore in 1985 and settled in Sylmar. When his wife, Sheila, was diagnosed with cancer in 1995 they sought treatment at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center (PHC) where her physician, Dr. Shamel Sanani, was the head of oncology. Mel was also connected to PHC through several physicians and still sees Drs. Clarfield and Tilkian. Despite all their efforts and the best possible care, Sheila passed away in 2000.

While seeking comfort in his grief, Mel met Eileen Berkowitz in a bereavement group in 2002 and they instantly knew that they were a match. The couple, both in their early 80’s by then, decided to marry in 2003 and lived together in Eileen’s home in Tarzana.

Eileen Berkowitz Sofian was always very community-focused and did a lot of her work through the Tarzana Community and Cultural Center. She was a long-time Tarzana resident, and had a particular interest in ensuring the quality and longevity of the Tarzana Medical Center well before it became a Providence ministry.

Mel and Eileen were thrilled when Providence acquired the hospital and resolved to support Providence Tarzana Medical Center (PTMC) to the extent of their ability. Eileen had begun talking about making a significant gift to the medical center but, unfortunately, did not live to see the fulfillment of that wish.

In tribute to her, Mel made it his mission to see to it that Eileen’s legacy endured at PTMC. Working with his financial advisors, Mel established a charitable gift annuity with funds from his IRA account. The annuity generates stable, lifetime income for his retirement. Upon his passing, the principle will be donated to the medical center to support the quality patient care that Eileen so greatly appreciated.

“Eileen and I were always great supporters of the doctors and nurses at Providence Tarzana and I feel honored to be able to make this gift, and to add them to my will,” says Mel. “I hope that others who also appreciate the excellent care we receive from Providence Tarzana Medical Center will do the same thing Eileen and I discussed.”

A plaque honoring Eileen Berkowitz Sofian was unveiled during a celebration of her life at the hospital with her family and friends in 2014.


Trinitycare

Final Months Offered Time for Soothing Words

Providence’s medical centers may have the largest “footprints” in our system, but they do not always have the biggest impact on our patients.

Providence TrinityCare Hospice provides our loved ones with compassionate and supportive home health services during the final months of their lives, and they do so in ways that can impact the patient’s loved ones every bit as much as the patient.

Phil and Bonnie Jue were nearly inseparable from the time they met on a blind date in 1977 throughout their marriage of 33 years. Their lives were filled with careers in the same field, passionate friendships, creative hobbies, and community involvements that kept them at the center of so many people’s lives. They were each other’s best friend and sole supporter. And for many who met them, they were the kind of couple that new couples aspired to be.

When Bonnie was diagnosed with cancer it shattered their lives in a way that they never imagined having to face. And when Bonnie’s treatments failed to arrest the cancer’s progress, the Jues’ last decision together was to contact Providence TrinityCare Hospice for help so that Phil could care for Bonnie in their home during their remaining months together.

Home hospice provides as much or as little help as a patient and their caregiver need, but it always gives enough to ensure that both people are well-cared for. Phil tended to his beloved Bonnie with all of his heart and all of his skills. Their final months together were profoundly sad, but they also were filled with love and comfort and soothing words. TrinityCare Hospice caregivers worked every day to ensure that Bonnie and Phil had everything they needed.

When Bonnie passed with Phil by her side, their circle of loved ones had grown again to include the members of their care team. Even in their final months together, Bonnie and Phil could not help but bring a few more people into the warmth of their circle. Beyond even that, Bonnie and Phil decided to honor the kindness they received with a planned gift from their estate to Providence TrinityCare Hospice.

The journey that a person makes with their family in the final months of life is profound and hard to imagine. But having the compassionate support of home hospice caregivers to enable you to make that journey with your loved one is easy to quantify – it’s priceless.


Trinitycare

A Heart for Hospice Care

Philip and Sandra Rowe Maier Establish Endowment for Palliative Care

Sandra Rowe Maier has devoted nearly a quarter century of volunteer service to the advancement of end-of life care. In 2013, following 22 years of volunteer leadership, annual contributions and special event sponsorships, Sandra and husband Philip made the decision to establish the Philip and Sandra Rowe Maier Endowment for Palliative Care, a significant gift in support of Providence TrinityCare Hospice. In recognition for their commitment, they were honored in 2014 with the Glass Family Award for Philanthropy, Leadership and Service.

Inspired by the Dedication of Others
In 1992, end-of-life care was on Sandra’s mind, as both of her parents had experienced a life-limiting cancer diagnosis without the benefit of hospice. They died within two years of each other. During that time, Mildred Marx invited Sandra to join a hospice advisory committee, and Sandra’s commitment began. Sandra counts Mildred and Jacky Glass as her mentors, and, of course, “Dr. Glen” (Glen Komatsu, M.D., chief medical officer of TrinityCare Hospice). Philip explains, “Hospice and palliative care captured Sandy’s attention. I like to joke that I’m riding on Sandy’s coattails, so TrinityCare has become my passion, too!”

An expert in both hospice and palliative care, Dr. Komatsu appreciates the unique understanding and generosity of the Maiers. “Their latest, most generous gift shows their level of understanding of our changing field and the evolving needs of patients and families,” says Komatsu. “Phil and Sandy appreciate hospice but understand how palliative care fills a huge gap in our health care system. The Maiers are determined to contribute to fill that gap and help us serve the needs of our patients.”

The Institute for Human Caring
Sandra hopes their endowment gift will help elevate “whole person” care to become common practice. “We really want to help promote new medicine on a national and global level,” says Sandra. “We feel like TrinityCare can do that with the establishment of the Institute for Human Caring.” Sandra is president and CEO of Jet Forwarding, Inc., and credits her brother David and wife Carole for their contributions in support of Providence TrinityCare Hospice through Jet Forwarding.

The institute’s focus goes beyond the medical aspects of illness to encompass the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. At the institute in the Douglas and J. Glass Family Center, caregivers from all disciplines are trained to be more effective. “TrinityCare’s team of doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains work with the patients and families to have an honest conversation,” says Sandra. “Hopefully out of that conversation, a plan is developed to manage symptoms and control pain, either toward recovery or to make a smooth transition to hospice.”


Trinitycare

A Tea Party with Mr. Bear

Laura was 22 when came on our service with end-stage leukemia. She lived with her loving mother and sister, and Darcie, her beloved four-year-old daughter.

Laura devoted herself to spending as much time as possible with Darcie, and gently preparing her daughter for life without her. Every moment that Laura felt well enough, she and Darcie were going places and having fun. She also began to speak openly about heaven, and that her spirit would remain with Darcie always.

When Darcie was very young she was given a stuffed bear. Over the years of use, ‘Mr. Bear’s’ stuffing mostly shifted to his tummy. When the hospice nurse visited one day, Laura asked if one of our volunteer seamstresses could re-stuff him and restore his original look. Laura and the nurse decided to tell Darcie that Mr. Bear was “on vacation.” Laura also had a shirt from a parenting class that had a ‘thumbs up’ sign on the front and a ‘thumbs down’ sign on the back. Laura and Darcie had used that shirt over the years to decide if choices they made were good or bad. Laura requested that the new Mr. Bear be dressed in that shirt so that Darcie could continue to use it as she and her mother had done.

When Mr. Bear was returned to Darcie, she was so happy to see him and said, “He got fatter on his vacation.” It was about this time that Darcie was asked to create a picture to be presented in an art display and silent auction for TrinityKids Care. Darcie came up with the idea for her artwork on her own.

Laura began to very rapidly decline this past September. The hospice nurse was by her side, caring for Laura and making her comfortable in her last hours. Darcie was in the next room having a tea party with Mr. Bear.