Saint John's Magazine - Winter 2013

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Under new sponsorship, the future is bright for Saint John’s Health Center


Editorial Staff Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Saint John's Health Center Michael L. Wall President, Foundation and Health Center Relations Robert O. Klein









Director of Marketing, Public Relations & Communications Andrea R. Salazar Marketing Manager Tabitha Ji

VP, Branded Media Emily S. Baker





Two families of physicians—the Hierros and the Uliches—reconnect.


The pre-op staff makes each patient feel special.

| JOINING PROVIDENCE HEALTH & SERVICES Two like-minded organizations look toward the future.


Health Center employees travel the globe to extend a healing touch.

Art Director Ajay Peckham Editor Shari Roan Copy Editor Laura Watts Contributors Dawn Hoffman, Sandi Draper, Lorie Parch Photographers Luke Gibson | Lauren Pressey


The Irene Dunne Guild plans for an eventful year.

President & CEO Charles C. Koones Chairman & Founder Todd Klawin

ON THE COVER The Health Center's future is bright as Providence Health & Services assumes sponsorship.


If you have a change of address or would like to be removed from our mailing list or any fundraising communication, please contact the Public Affairs and Development Office at 310-829-8424.


Welcome from the Foundation s 2013 winds down, we have the opportunity to reflect on the momentous changes and noteworthy progress at Saint John’s Health Center over the past year. As always, we are mindful of the significance of our donors and supporters in the evolution of our hospital. Your steadfast friendship and belief in our mission has allowed Saint John’s Health Center to remain among the finest hospitals in the nation, as is evident in our Healthgrades ranking as one of the 50 Best Hospitals for seven straight years. The New Year will find us moving into an exciting future with Providence Health & Services, Southern California. The story beginning on page 10 in this issue describes the enthusiastic reception we have received from Providence and the confidence we derive from our similar histories, parallel approaches to healthcare and shared Catholic mission. We believe in reaching out to underserved communities. For example, several members of our medical staff participate in charitable medical missions overseas to treat people in communities where healthcare is scarce. We also support the vitally important Child and Family Development Center, one of the county’s few remaining community mental health programs directed at the emotional and developmental needs of low-income and minority children. We remain committed to the values of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth to provide care to those most in need and are proud of the institution we have become. With your support, patients at Saint John’s Health Center will continue to experience outstanding healthcare at the hands of a kind and compassionate staff.

MICHAEL L. WALL Acting President and CEO Saint John’s Health Center

JOHN M. ROBERTSON, MD Chairman, Board of Trustees Saint John’s Health Center Foundation




A N N UA L C H E C K U P seven ye a r s i n a row.

Saint John’s is the ONLY hospital in California to receive Healthgrades® America’s 50 Best™ seven years in a row. Our best-of-the-best doctors continue to further our reputation as the premier destination for the highest level of patient-focused care. Our unwavering commitment to personalized care, leading-edge medicine and patient safety has long been acknowledged by the community. To be nationally recognized by Healthgrades only confirms what our patients have known all along.



Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

APRIL 5, 2014

MAY 2-4, 2014

29th Annual John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary Odyssey Ball Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, CA

Chautauqua Weekend 2014 Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, Ojai, CA

The annual benefit organized by the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary will honor the Mandela Family with the “True Grit” Award for continuing the mission of former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela, who helped bring an end to apartheid. Anton Bilchik, MD, PhD, will be presented with “The Duke” Special Service Award. Dr. Bilchik, a native of South Africa and chief of medicine at the Institute, is an internationally recognized surgical oncologist who has pioneered techniques to improve staging in colon cancer and minimally invasive treatment approaches for liver and pancreatic cancer. The Odyssey Ball is the signature annual event of the Auxiliary, currently led by Anita Swift, the granddaughter of John Wayne. To date, the Auxiliary has raised more than $18 million to fund research, provide financial support to the prestigious Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program and purchase vital new laboratory equipment.

MAY 8, 2014 Irene Dunne Guild Think Pink Mother’s Day Boutique and Educational Luncheon The latest healthcare topics are presented by Saint John’s Health Center physicians in an idyllic setting, the Upper Bel-Air Bay Club. Mothers, daughters, sisters and friends can shop to their heart’s content, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Guild’s special patient programs and services at Saint John’s Health Center.

Chautauqua Weekend is a Saint John’s Health Center Foundation annual tradition that provides a unique opportunity for trustees, physicians, friends and leadership to gather for a weekend of education, camaraderie and activities.

A full lineup of additional exciting and informative Saint John’s Health Center events will be announced in Spring 2014. For more information, contact Tess Csiszar at




Gifts That Make an Impact Now When you make a donation to Saint John's Health Center, you're investing in the best healthcare possible for yourself, your family and your community. You'll be helping purchase cutting-edge equipment and supporting clinical education, community outreach programs and the creation of new patient services. To help you envision what your dollars can do, we've compiled a list of projects, equipment, programs and services that are immediate priorities for funding. A gift of any amount is appreciated and will be directed to one of these important projects. Bedside Ultrasound Machine ($80,000) This portable machine provides high-quality images in real time— ideal for emergencies in the labor and delivery room. Cal State Dominguez Hills BSN Program ($300,000) By funding the ongoing training of our nurses, novice and experienced alike, you help ensure the best quality of care for our patients. Community Health Education Program ($50,000) Through free community forums, Saint John’s Health Center’s top physicians discuss the latest research on disease prevention to inspire change in everyday habits and promote healthier lifestyles. Duodenoscope ($45,000) A duodenoscope is a flexible, lighted scope used in the endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography test (ERCP), along with fluoroscopy, to give physicians a clear picture of the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Ergonomically-adjusted seating ($50,000) People with significant


joint problems have difficulty sitting for long periods of time. Special seating provides comfort to presurgical joint replacement patients during educational programs. Inpatient Room Sponsorship ($100,000–$200,000) A peaceful and private room can make a world of difference in a patient’s outlook and ability to heal. By sponsoring an inpatient room in the labor and delivery, post-partum, orthopedic, oncology, postcritical care or critical care unit, you provide a supportive and healing environment for our patients and their families. It’s an extraordinary way to say thanks for the exceptional care you or a loved one received or to honor an individual or organization. Your gift will be recognized with a wall plaque adjacent to the room. Named Surgical Oncology Fellow ($175,000) The lack of specially trained surgical oncologists hinders the progress of cancer research. The John Wayne Cancer Institute’s renowned Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program prepares general surgeons to become specialists and leaders in surgical oncology.

Orthopedic Fellowship for Hip and Pelvis Institute ($300,000) Your donation will support the training of orthopedic surgeons in the latest treatment options for joint replacement, pelvic and acetabular fracture repair. The advancement of surgical techniques ensures the highest quality outcomes, reduced rehabilitation time and gets people back to their lives more quickly. “Pawsitive” Pet Program ($50,000) By giving to this beloved program, you provide support for patient visits from our “Pawsitive” dog volunteers. In offering their unconditional love and acceptance, these dogs reduce a patient’s pain, promote relaxation, lower blood pressure and relieve loneliness during a patient’s stay. Portable Fetal Monitors ($20,000 each) These units monitor both the unborn baby's heartbeat and the mother’s contractions, allowing the mother greater mobility during labor. Seeds of Innovation ($1,000– $25,000+) Your support will help the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s physicians and scientists spark novel ideas into


remarkable breakthroughs and fund projects that continue to improve the ways we detect, diagnose and treat cancer around the world. Specialized Microscope for Spinal Surgery ($250,000) Spine surgeons utilize state-of-the-art microscopes when performing these critical, delicate surgeries. Your support would provide surgeons the most advanced technology to ensure safe and effective surgical intervention. Ultrasound Gastrovideoscope ($100,000) The ultrasound gastrovideoscope is a flexible, lighted scope used in endoscopic ultrasound, or the EUS test, to give physicians a clear picture of the various structures within the surrounding GI tract (pancreas, kidneys, liver and lymph nodes). This facilitates treatment, identification and diagnosis of disease and staging results. Upper Airway Equipment for the Emergency Department ($25,000) The C-MAC Pocket Monitor is a portable laryngoscope used in cardiac arrest. This technology assists physicians in positioning a life-saving breathing tube for ventilation. The nasopharyngoscope is a flexible fiberoptic tool used for visualization during airway emergencies. Vocera Voice Communication System ($1,400,000) The streamlined Vocera Voice communication system enables immediate communication between members of the clinical staff. State-ofthe-art communications technology enhances patient outcomes. To learn more about supporting any of these projects, please call Gail Drewniak in the Foundation office at 310-829-8175.

The Foundation Gold Card Program This card is about gratitude.

The generosity of donors helps make Saint John’s Health Center a special place. Those good deeds are recognized with the Gold Card, a rewards program designed to thank and acknowledge individuals for the benevolence that makes new services, equipment and programs possible. Because of our donors, construction of the Health Center was recently completed with the opening of the Mullin Plaza and Mullin Gardens. Moreover, gifts to the Foundation are a gift of life itself—contributing to the continuing education of medical staff and acquisition of state-of-the-art medical technology. The Gold Card is presented by the Foundation to donors who give $10,000 or more annually to the Health Center. But it’s not just an honorary membership. Gold card members qualify for an array of Health Center benefits. Those who make an annual gift of $10,000 or more receive: • Advanced registration and expedited care • Private room arrangements • Complimentary valet parking for immediate family Elite Gold Card members with cumulative giving of $100,000 or more receive the above benefits, plus: • Special tray food service • Newspaper delivery Caritas Gold Card members with cumulative giving of $250,000 or more receive the above benefits, plus: • 24/7 telephone support and nurse on call • Comfort amenities package • Executive Registry—your medical advisor when you travel • Caritas Suites discount “It’s an expression of our gratitude,” says Robert O. Klein, Foundation president. But the biggest value of the card comes when members require medical services, he says. New Gold Card members receive a patient registration packet enabling them to pre-register for hospital care. By filling out the forms, they will find the entire process from registration to actual care is expedited if they ever require treatment. “They now have a link to the Health Center,” he explains. “If and when they do have to visit us, they’re registered. It minimizes stress during that time when you’re anxious and in pain and uncomfortable. It helps the family. And it’s easier for the patient.” Once in the hospital, Gold Card members have access to Irene Bristol, director of major gifts at Saint John’s Health Center; patient relations director, Coco Garcia; and patient concierge, Anthony Cacace, who can assist them with any of their needs or concerns. Gold Card members often say that one of the best parts of membership is a practical one: Members can pull up to the hospital valet and drop off the keys. Parking is free. Gold Card members are a special part of the Saint John’s Health Center family. To learn more about the Gold Card program, please contact Irene Bristol at 310-829-8348.




Beating the Drum for Saint John’s Health Center Q & A with Dr. John M. Robertson Saint John’s Health Center Foundation heads into an exciting future with John M. Robertson, MD, who was recently installed as the chairman of the Foundation board of trustees. Dr. Robertson joined the medical staff at Saint John’s Health Center on a full-time basis in 1991 and is the chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. He has been a Foundation trustee for 17 years. Here, he shares his unique views, as both a trustee and member of the medical staff, on the future of the Health Center and Foundation.

How will you balance your roles as chairman of the Foundation board and as a physician? “I see myself as always being out there beating the drum for Saint John’s Health Center. I frequently give lectures to various groups about the Health Center. As chairman, I’ll be responsible for representing my fellow trustees along with Bob Klein, the president of the Foundation. As chief of heart surgery, I’m actively involved in clinical care—in operations—on a daily basis. I sit on numerous medical staff committees. There’s a lot to participate in at Saint John’s, and I


enjoy being involved! I usually start my day at 6 or 7 a.m., and many times I finish at 9 or 10 at night.” What would you most like people to know as the Health Center becomes part of Providence Health & Services? “People have to be assured that Saint John’s Health Center will continue to provide the outstanding care they’ve come to know and expect. The tradition of the Sisters will remain. Providence has a similar vision.”

ON THE PULSE Will the hospital’s executive team change? “Providence has shared that they want to engage us, the physicians as well as the trustees, in selecting personnel who will be leading the hospital. The new CEO of the hospital, whoever that may be, should be willing to listen to and seek guidance from the medical staff and the board of directors. Providence has suggested to us that several trustees and physicians will re-populate the hospital’s board of directors and be part of the search committee for the new CEO.” What is your top goal at the Foundation? “The #1 priority is to get back to business as usual. We plan to engage our colleagues at Providence and, as they become close associates, help them understand the importance of philanthropy in our community. Due to recent events, there are donors who have held off in giving. We want to reassure all of our donors that this hospital is here for the long haul. The

to be proud of. That is not going to change.” What are some of the future goals for Saint John’s Health Center? “Our goal is to increase the number of doctors and specialists as well as the number of insurance companies with contracts here so that we increase the number of patients who come to Saint John’s. We’ve retained an outstanding roster of doctors who are excited to be here.” How will Saint John’s Health Center fit into Providence’s group of hospitals? “I think Providence recognizes that they are getting an outstanding addition to their Southern California network of hospitals. They are so proud to be sponsoring this facility. They want to put resources into the Health Center so it grows and gets better and stronger. If you look at the Sisters who founded the Providence organization, they have similarities to the Sisters of Charity. Our mission statements

“By joining Providence, we are joining the largest Catholic hospital network in the Western United States and the secondlargest health system in Los Angeles, second only to Kaiser Permanente. Their financial strength and resources will be a source of growth for Saint John’s Health Center.” Explain why our physicians play such an important role in the Foundation’s mission? “Our physicians are an integral part of our continued success. They have the day-to-day contact with our patients who so often want to do something meaningful for the doctors who have helped them. Doctors can make the connection between a grateful patient and Foundation staff—which leads to philanthropic gifts. That benefits the Health Center, the doctors and all of our patients.” Why do physicians want to work at Saint John’s? “This is the ideal environment for the private practice of medicine. Physicians

Our goal is to increase the number of doctors and specialists as well as the number of insurance companies with contracts here so that we increase the number of patients who come to Saint John’s. We’ve retained an outstanding roster of doctors who are excited to be here.” hospital has been ranked as one of the 50 Best Hospitals for seven years in a row by Healthgrades, and we also place in the top 5% of hospitals in cardiac services, women’s health and joint replacements. We received a top rating for knee and hip replacement services by Consumer Reports. We have a lot

are similar. They believe in caring for the poor and vulnerable. Like Saint John’s Health Center, all faiths are welcome.” How will the strength of Providence Health & Services benefit Saint John’s Health Center?

at Saint John’s can manage their own practice in a beautiful community amidst the mission of the Sisters, with outstanding nurses and the support of the Foundation. This is university-academic medicine practiced in a private practice environment. You get the best of both worlds.”



On Common Ground With enthusiasm running high, Saint John’s Health Center meets its new sponsor.

Written by SHARI ROAN | Photographed by LUKE GIBSON and LAUREN PRESSEY

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Saint John's Health Center is ranked among Healthgrades® America's 50 Best™ Hospitals.


f Sister Hypatia, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth leader who helped build Saint John’s Health Center in 1942, had ever met Mother Joseph— one of the foundresses of the Sisters of Providence who oversaw construction of many hospitals in the Northwest in the second half of the 19th century—they would most certainly have hit it off. They were both committed to providing

healthcare for the needy. They were strong and intelligent. And these two women were definitely good with a hammer. Sister Hypatia was a trained engineer who reviewed the blueprints daily as she supervised construction of Saint John’s Health Center. Mother Joseph was the daughter of a carpenter who learned construction at her father’s side. From those roots, the Sisters of Charity

and Sisters of Providence built hospitals throughout the Western United States that continue to thrive today. And now their paths have crossed. In September, leadership signed a definitive agreement in which Providence Health & Services, Southern California, will assume sponsorship of Saint John’s Health Center. Providence in Southern California is a five-hospital region of


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Providence Health & Services, which is headquartered in Renton, Washington. “The more I become acquainted with Providence, the more I see similarities,” says Sister Maureen Craig, who will continue with her duties as Foundation chaplain. “They are so much like us. We are unified in our values.” The shared belief that every person deserves compassionate, high-quality healthcare is at the root of both Catholic-based organizations, says Michael Hunn, senior vice president and chief executive of Providence Health & Services’ California region.

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“It starts with our respective missions,” he says. “Both organizations are focused and dedicated to their communities, and they are very clear about their service to the poor and the vulnerable. Because our missions are so aligned—our histories are so similar, the foundresses of the two orders have so many similarities, the passion for healthcare—it’s a wonderful match-up.” The new sponsorship ensures that Saint John’s Health Center is on solid ground during an era of rapid change in the healthcare industry, says Sister Maureen. She uses the analogy of a braid to describe the partnership—the Health Center representing one


Sister Therese Zimmerman, SCL; Sister Colleen Settles, OP from Providence; Sister Maureen Craig, SCL

strand of fabric and Providence as another strand. “In the middle is the central strand that holds everything together: the healing mission of Jesus Christ. Combine the strands, and we become a braid. We become stronger.” With the number of insured Americans expected to grow, the aging population, and the many technological and medical advances of the genomics age of medicine, healthcare is undergoing a transformation. Alliances are needed to manage the complexities of the marketplace, says Donna F. Tuttle, past chair of the Saint John’s Health Center Foundation board of trustees.

“We benefit by having someone close by who knows the marketplace and has a stake in it,” she explains. “When we talk about our vision, they understand it. They understand the competitive nature. They understand the need to reach out and have alliances with other medical institutions. You can’t be isolated in the marketplace.” Sponsorship by a Catholic ministry with a large presence in Southern California will resolve a challenge that the hospital has long faced. Until now, Saint John's Health Center has been the only Southern California hospital in a system based in the Rocky


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Top row, left to right: Michael Hunn, senior vice president and chief executive of Providence Health & Services, Southern California; Patricia Modrzejewski, chief development officer/president for Providence Health & Services Foundations/Southern California; Dale Surowitz, regional chief operating officer, Providence. Bottow row: Donna Tuttle, former chair of the Health Center Foundation board of trustees; Dr. Paul Natterson, president of the Health Center medical staff.

Mountain area, says Paul D. Natterson, MD, president of the Saint John’s Health Center medical staff.

When we talk about our vision, they understand it. They understand the competitive nature. They understand the need to reach out and have alliances with other medical institutions. You can’t be isolated in the marketplace.” “We are now becoming part of a powerful system in Southern California,” he says. “There was always a sense, in the past, that we were an outlier.”

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The leadership at Providence Health & Services, Southern California, has experience and sensitivity with the issues surrounding change, notes Dale Surowitz, regional chief operating officer. Surowitz was chief executive officer of Tarzana Medical Center in 2008 when it became part of Providence. “The biggest concern people have is: ‘What is going to happen to our culture? What is going to happen to our identity? Will we lose our individuality?’” he says. “I can tell you that is not the case. Providence does a terrific job of being sensitive and cognizant of incorporating the culture and the rich history of a hospital and bringing it into a new history and culture with Providence. Being able to meld them together is important.” Providence Health & Services, Southern California, is a notfor-profit organization with five acute-care medical centers in the Los Angeles area. This year, the five hospitals will admit about 72,000 patients and will treat more than 275,000 in its emergency departments. The 12,000-employee company also has several ancillary


PROVIDENCE HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL CENTERS ALASKA Anchorage - Providence Alaska Medical Center Kodiak - Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center Mat-Su - Providence Matanuska Health Care Seward - Providence Seward Medical and Care Center Valdez - Providence Valdez Medical Center CALIFORNIA Burbank - Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center Mission Hills - Providence Holy Cross Medical Center San Pedro - Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro Tarzana - Providence Tarzana Medical Center Torrance - Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance MONTANA Missoula - Providence St. Patrick Hospital Polson - Providence St. Joseph Medical Center

facilities including hospice care, long-term care and outpatient clinics. About 400 clinics and 4,000 physicians are affiliated with Providence Health & Services, Southern California, Hunn says. Saint John’s Health Center becomes part of a Catholic health system that holds the second largest market share in the region. With its history of outstanding medical care, Saint John’s Health Center is now able to compete with the region’s largest healthcare providers, Tuttle says. “Saint John’s has a high profile,” she says. “We compete with Cedars and UCLA. We are proud of our personalized, specialized approach to healthcare. We will continue to excel in the core disciplines we are so well-known for and the warm, professional care patients receive.” The dedication shown by Saint John’s Health Center staff throughout the past year is notable, Surowitz adds. “The reputation of Saint John’s clinicians is outstanding, but the physicians and employees also have tremendous commitment, staying with the hospital during very challenging times. The passion the staff feels about the community and the Health Center is incredible.” Saint John’s Health Center lives its Catholic values, says Sister Colleen Settles, chief mission integration officer at Providence Health & Services, Southern California. “Saint John’s is known for its quality care and its compassionate care of individuals. We have known that for years,” she says. The alliance will also strengthen the ability of both organizations

OREGON Hood River - Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Medford - Providence Medford Medical Center Milwaukie - Providence Milwaukie Medical Center Newberg - Providence Newberg Medical Center Portland - Providence Portland Medical Center Portland - Providence St. Vincent Medical Center Portland - Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center Seaside - Providence Seaside Hospital WASHINGTON Centralia - Providence Centralia Hospital Chewelah - Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital Colville - Providence Mount Carmel Hospital Everett - Providence Regional Medical Center Olympia - Providence St. Peter Hospital Spokane - Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital Spokane - Providence Holy Family Hospital Walla Walla - Providence St. Mary Medical Center

to continue outreach to underserved populations in the region, she adds. “If we are going to continue our mission of care for the poor and vulnerable within the context of our Catholic tradition, we have to come together. We have to network with each other. We have to find partnerships.”

The reputation of Saint John’s clinicians is outstanding, but the physicians and employees also have tremendous commitment, staying with the hospital during very challenging times. The passion the staff feels about the community and the Health Center is incredible.” Meanwhile, Saint John’s Health Center Foundation trustees continue in their roles as stewards of the hospital. The Foundation has given Providence leadership a list of 10 major issues that should be addressed to ensure future growth of the Health Center, Tuttle says.


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“We wanted to ensure that assets of the hospital were protected and that everything was safeguarded,” she explains. “On the Providence side, they’ve been open and candid and transparent.” Providence leaders say they understand and greatly value the role of Saint John’s Health Center Foundation. Providence Health & Services, Southern California, has a network of foundations that serve its various ministries, says Patricia Modrzejewski, chief development officer and president of health and services for Providence in California. Foundations are more important than ever, she says. “They play a vital role in providing preeminent healthcare for our communities. In the past, they were focused on raising philanthropic dollars for capital, but today, they must focus on supporting both operations and capital.” “We’re very excited to embrace Saint John’s Health Center and the Foundation,” Modrzejewski says. “We have such respect for their Foundation and what they have accomplished. We are excited about sharing best practices and learning from each other.” Each Foundation board of trustees under the Providence umbrella functions autonomously with its own board and responsibility for its investment portfolio, she stresses. And, adds Hunn, financial support generated by Saint John’s Health Center donors will remain under the Health Center’s purview. “All of the fundraising done in the local community stays in the local community,” Hunn says. “We rely so much on the gifts, the shared treasure of our donors. They need to have the assurance that every gift is received in love and gratitude. Every gift matters and is never taken for granted. Every gift remains in the community for which it was intended.”

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ore than 65 years ago, several Los Angeles women seeking to assist the hospital in their beachside community formed a nonprofit group named the Saint John’s Hospital Guild—the precursor to today’s Foundation. In those days, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, who have been the sponsors of Saint John’s Health Center, depended on a network of volunteers, mostly well-connected women, to help them with a range of hospital tasks, community outreach and fundraising. Community members were eager to help the Sisters, who had come to Santa Monica in 1939 to provide healthcare to the city’s Westside. “People were very taken with the dedication the Sisters brought to Santa Monica,” says Robert O. Klein, president, Foundation and Health Center Relations. “I think that resonated with the community. The Sisters have been pioneers in every community they’ve gone. They’ve founded hospitals throughout the western part of our country. These were very self-sufficient women. They would go into a community because someone had asked them to provide something that was needed—and that was healthcare.” While the name has changed, the values that helped establish that first guild have not. Today the Saint John’s Health Center Foundation remains an integral part of the Health Center, with a board of trustees, staff and volunteers who are steadfast in their belief of healing as a ministry. “Our mission is to raise support, both financially and through volunteer work, for the healthcare mission of Saint John’s. That is our reason for being in existence,” Klein says. Catholic hospitals in the United States typically had large and supportive guilds until the mid-1970s, when many converted to independent foundations. “The hospitals wanted to give donors and supporters peace of mind that their money

would be put to use where intended or specified,” Klein says, “and overseen by an independent board of trustees or directors.” The Saint John’s Health Center Foundation was incorporated in 1974 to establish that trust between the hospital and its supporters. For much of the mid-20th century, many of those supporters were leaders in business and the entertainment industry. “A number of executives and celebrities from the entertainment industry called Saint John’s their hospital,” Klein says. “We became known as a hospital to the stars. I think one of the things celebrities appreciate about Saint John’s is that they come and go with complete anonymity.” The hospital grew on the strength of its reputation for outstanding healthcare, stellar medical staff, a caring nursing corps and dedication to the community. Today, many members of the Foundation’s board of trustees are part of the Westside community. “The trustees are the most exemplary group of people,” Klein says. “What makes Saint John’s interesting is that although we’re a faith-based, Catholic hospital, our leadership and volunteers aren’t exclusively Catholic. They’re all dedicated, successful people united in their desire to give back. They want the hospital to thrive and grow for their families and for future generations.” Many of the supporters have long family or personal histories with the Health Center or Foundation. Trustees often remain board members and dedicated supporters over a period of years. “Our Foundation is remarkable in the amount of dollars it can generate,” says John M. Robertson, MD, chairman of the Foundation board of trustees and chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. “These trustees are the captains of industry or are elite individuals who have done so well in their lives and want to give back to society. Their collective intelligence is


quite impressive.” Klein was a volunteer on the board before he was asked to become vice president and executive director in 1992 by Sister Marie Madeleine Shonka, the Health Center’s president and CEO at the time. But his roots with the hospital go deeper. His wife, Jo Ann, was born at the Health Center and was named after two people: her uncle, Father Joseph Spillane, the hospital chaplain in the late 1940s, and the hospital administrator at the time, Sister Ann Raymond. The Kleins’ three children were born at Saint John’s Health Center, and five of their eight grandchildren were born there too. Strong personal connections, a rich history and dedicated physicians have enabled the Health Center and Foundation to weather tough times, such as the 1994 earthquake that severely damaged the hospital. Over the last 30 years, the Foundation has been the chief financial engine contributing to the rebuilding of the new hospital. “Without the Foundation, Saint John’s Health Center would not have survived and grown after the earthquake,” Klein says. “The trustees and the physicians rallied and said, ‘We need to rebuild our community hospital.’” That resolve will continue as Providence Health & Services assumes sponsorship of Saint John’s Health Center. Providence was also founded by a network of dedicated, strong, religious women, he notes. “With the pending changeover to Providence, if you look at their heritage and history, we share more similarities than differences.”

The Sisters have been pioneers in every community they’ve gone. They’ve founded hospitals throughout the western part of our country. These were very self-sufficient women.”

Robert Klein, president, Foundation and Health Center Relations


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The Doctor’s Doctor

In a twist of fate, Saint John’s Health Center gastroenterologist Dr. Martha Hierro had the chance to save the life of her childhood pediatrician. WRITTEN BY LORIE PARCH PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAUREN PRESSEY

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ew people forget their childhood pediatrician. After all, this is the person who explains things in a simple way so kids and their parents understand—the person who takes the anxiety out of scary situations. Martha Hierro, MD, had never forgotten the man who cared for her while she was growing up. So when the Saint John’s Health

Center gastroenterologist was summoned to the emergency room on Labor Day to treat a patient with a gastrointestinal (GI)

surgery for a leg fracture in April. Such bleeding is a common side effect of anticoagulant drugs, but it had put the retired pediatrician, who

It brought tears to my eyes when I saw him in the ER and in the ICU because I believe that we are all connected in life. Dr. Ulich cared for me for many years as a child, and all of a sudden fate brought us together once again; only now it was my turn to serve him.” bleed, she was stunned by the name on the chart. The patient was her own childhood pediatrician, Konrad Ulich, MD, age 88. And he was in trouble. “He was pale and white. And I knew we had to act very quickly,” recalls Dr. Hierro, who immediately recognized the doctor who’d cared for her as a girl. “It brought tears to my eyes when I saw him in the ER and in the ICU because I believe that we are all connected in life. Dr. Ulich cared for me for many years as a child, and all of a sudden fate brought us together once again; only now it was my turn to serve him.” Dr. Ulich was experiencing the lifethreatening GI bleed as the result of anticlotting drugs he’d been prescribed following

operated his medical practice in the San Fernando Valley for more than 40 years, in very serious condition. He had noticed some bleeding from the rectum. Then, he explains, “I was watching my family play tennis, and my son David said, ‘You look terrible.’ So we came to the hospital.” Dr. Hierro, who’s been a gastroenterologist at Saint John’s Health Center for nearly 21 years, quickly assessed the situation and went to work on the doctor who’d cared for her, her sister Gloria and her brother Ernesto as kids. First, she performed a therapeutic endoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure, to examine the source of the bleeding. She found a bleeding ulcer with a very large

clot and consulted with Stephen Kuchenbecker, MD, chief of surgery at Saint John’s Health Center. They decided they could avoid a complex and risky surgery. “We were able to do another endoscopy with therapeutic coagulation,” which stopped the bleeding, says Dr. Hierro. Dr. Ulich is now on his way to a full recovery and anxious to return to his active life. “I feel fine,” he says, asking Dr. Hierro when he can get back to driving and give up his walker. “My main complaint is that I can’t walk as well as I would like.” For Dr. Hierro, seeing her pediatrician reminded her of what a powerful early influence he was. As a child, she was intrigued with medicine and admired her pediatrician. “You were the first white coat to encourage me to wear that white coat,” Dr. Hierro told Dr. Ulich on an October morning when the two met for a follow-up visit. The German-born Dr. Ulich says he’s grateful to have inspired her. He is also a dedicated father to three grown children. Dr. Ulich’s wife, Gisela, who died in 2011, was a psychiatrist at Saint John’s Health Center. In yet another twist connecting the Hierro and Ulich families, Dr. Hierro’s sister Gloria went on to become a pediatrician—one with

Dr. Konrad Ulich A pediatrician, Dr. Ulich operated a practice in the San Fernando Valley.

a unique link to Dr. Ulich. “As fate would have it, when Dr. Ulich retired, he handed my sister his practice,” says Dr. Hierro, who was born at Saint John’s Health Center. “To this day, Gloria is eternally grateful. So Dr. Ulich has a special place in the Hierro family’s heart.” For Dr. Hierro, working at the Health Center means living the hospital’s mission of serving all. “It gives me the opportunity to take care of patients from all walks of life,” she says. But nothing beats the feeling of caring for someone who so lovingly guarded her health and development as a child. “It’s been my honor to take care of my pediatrician, who for so many years was my mother’s go-to guy,” she says.


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On a

MISSION Saint John’s Health Center staff use their vacation time and their own funds to travel thousands of miles to help those most in need. Written by DAWN HOFFMAN


edical personnel at Saint John’s Health Center have all the tools of modern medicine at their fingertips, along with teams of specialists to consult and a pharmacy stocked full of life-saving drugs. So why would some of them choose to use their vacation time to travel—on their own dime—to work in remote parts of the world where even something as basic as clean water may be in short supply? “I really feel like it’s an opportunity to give back,” says Robert C. Hamilton, MD, a pediatrician at Saint John’s Health Center who has been traveling on medical missions since the early ‘80s. He started by taking several trips to Nicaragua. But he turned his attention to Africa after a missionary friend who had founded a congregation in The Gambia simply told him, “They need you.”

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Dr. Geisler photographed by Reilly Geisler

Dr. Marna Geisler treats a child in the Akha hill tribe near Kyaingtong, Burma.


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e went on his first medical mission to Africa in 1988 and has been going back every year, sometimes twice a year. Indeed, it became very clear on that first trip that he would have plenty to do there. “I saw that the need in Africa was very great,” Dr. Hamilton says, “and I felt very productive. I also fell in love with the African people.” Dr. Hamilton has traveled to places such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau. Teaming up with other medical specialists, he goes to a location and opens a building such as a church, city hall or courthouse for about a week at a time. Fundraising covers the medicines and other supplies that they ship over, but the doctors and other staff pay for their own travel, food and lodging.

I saw that the need in Africa was very great, and I felt very productive. I also fell in love with the African people.” Dr. Robert Hamilton, a pediatrician from Saint John's Health Center, treats patients at a week-long, makeshift medical clinic in Africa. The healthcare team sees a range of medical problems, from malaria to dehydration to infection. Some of the adult patients suffer from severe emotional stress. »

“We open the doors, and thousands of people show up,” Dr. Hamilton says. People come in need of medical care for a range of conditions, from dehydration and diarrhea to pneumonia, malaria and heart problems. Many volunteers on their first medical missions are shocked by the great need for medical care. Irene Bristol, director of major gifts at the Health Center, joined Dr. Hamilton's team on a 2011 trip to Africa along with co-worker, Kim Rosenberg, RN, who was an integral member of the team. Bristol is a registered nurse who spent many years in patient care before joining the Foundation staff. She recalls arriving in the remote village of Kabala in Sierra Leone after a long bus ride on dirt roads. The village had been battered by the region’s civil war. The missionary team set up mosquito tents at the compound where they would sleep. Then they went to a communal building that served as a church at night to prepare for the opening of the week-long clinic the next day. Saint John’s Health Center donates many of the medicines and medical supplies for the missions. “People had already started lining up,” Bristol recalls. “Some had started walking to reach the clinic seven or eight days prior to our arrival.” Many patients were mothers carrying babies on their backs. Some of the women limped due to paralysis from polio infections.

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Members of a Burmese hill tribe try on glasses at a makeshift pharmacy.

There were still so many people in line when we left. That was the hardest part— you want to help them all. We knew there were so many more we could have helped.” The clinic staff treated hundreds of patients that week. Many patients had waterborne diseases or infections and required antibiotics or wound care. Some of the mothers gripped their chests, as if they were experiencing chest pain. After a few days, the healthcare team recognized that these women were suffering from intense stress. Oftentimes giving patients a Tylenol and just talking to them would relax and comfort them. Missionary staffers distributed clothes, shoes and toiletries. Many returned home with empty suitcases, having given away all

but the clothes they were wearing. In the evening, the missionary staff returned to the communal building to pray with the villagers. “There were still so many people in line when we left,” Bristol says. “That was the hardest part—you want to help them all. We knew there were so many more we could have helped.” While most of the care given by doctors on medical missions is provided in the field, sometimes patients are transported to hospitals for major procedures. Both Dr. Hamilton and another Health Center pediatrician, Marna L. Geisler, MD, have helped


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Left: Dr. Marna Geisler treating a child in Burma. Right: Dr. Robert Hamilton gives a soccer ball to a boy with malaria.

children get surgeries that have dramatically improved their lives— or ultimately saved them. Dr. Geisler has been going on medical missions since 1989. Initially she took a trip with Dr. Hamilton and then began organizing trips of her own to Burma after traveling to Thailand with a friend and learning about the great need of hill tribes there. She’s also gone on medical missions to Honduras, Cuba, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka. Working with the Myanmar Compassion Project and the Student Action Volunteer Effort, Dr. Geisler travels annually to the area and spends the bulk of her time caring for basic health problems and prescribing vitamins and pain medications. Because of a lack of vitamin A, night blindness is a big problem among children there. But on a trip two years ago, Dr. Geisler met a 9-month-old boy in a remote fishing village who had a heart murmur and two leaky valves. He needed open-heart surgery to survive. Through the Myanmar Compassion Project, which has a clinic in Yangon, Dr. Geisler arranged for the boy to be transported there and undergo the necessary operation. “He probably wouldn’t have lived past his second birthday without this surgery,” she says. In another case, Dr. Geisler saw a 4-year-old boy who was born with a bowel obstruction and had a colostomy bag that prolapsed,

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leaving his intestinal wall exposed. Because of concerns that the abdominal area would get dirty and develop infections, the little boy wasn’t allowed to play outside. His parents had no money for the surgery, so Dr. Geisler and her group arranged for the boy to be transported for surgery. She remembers feeling elated when she got an email message from the boy’s nurse that read that he now had a functional bowel. Dr. Hamilton, too, has helped children with serious heart defects get the critical surgery they needed. About a year ago, he worked with an organization in London to arrange for a girl from Guinea who had a cardiac defect, known as Tetralogy of Fallot, to be transported there for the life-saving surgery. Still, healthcare providers on medical missions are painfully aware that they can’t help everyone. “There’s a lot of sadness and hopelessness in Africa,” says Dr. Hamilton. “You see life in the raw and on the edge. We’re there for a short time, and you just can’t cure every illness.” But he and his colleagues do what they can, as often as they can. “We know we can’t fix everything, and that’s very frustrating,” says Dr. Geisler. “But for the kids with ruptured eardrums or abscesses or headaches, we can help, and that’s so rewarding. And then when you get home, you think, ‘We really are blessed.’”

Dr. Geisler photographed by Reilly Geisler, Dr. Hamilton photographed by Phillip Kim



A Mission at Home and Abroad Dr. Janet Salomonson had a passion for helping children with clefts. One of Dr. Janet Salomonson’s greatest joys was caring for children with cleft lips and palates. Determined to spare a child a lifetime of health and self-image problems due to this birth defect, she traveled the world to volunteer her surgical skills to make children whole. Dr. Salomonson passed away after a brief illness in September, leaving the Saint John’s Health Center community in mourning. A gifted plastic surgeon, she was an integral part of the Health Center’s cleft palate team since 1982 and served as medical director for the past 15 years. Dr. Salomonson traveled every year to places such as Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and the Philippines, notes Ann Masson, nurse coordinator, who has worked in the Cleft Palate Center for more than two dozen years. “Her vision was to go with healthcare teams to repair children’s clefts and also to teach the local surgeons so that they could provide care to many more children,” says Masson. Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip and mouth do not form properly, resulting in openings or splits in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (known as the palate) or both. According to the World Health Organization, cleft lip or palate affects one of every 500 to 700 babies born worldwide. The cleft palate program at the Health Center was one of the first in the Los Angeles area when it began in the 1965. The multidisciplinary cleft palate team of professionals has treated thousands of patients, ranging from birth to adulthood. Patients and their families meet all the disciplines of the team, which include clinical specialists; plastic surgeons; pediatricians; ear, nose and throat specialists; speech pathologists; audiologists; social workers; and orthodontists—all of whom are especially skilled in the care and management of children and adults with clefts. The cleft palate team believes it is not enough to just “repair the cleft” but rather take pride in creating an optimally aesthetic appearance, proper dental function, good speech and a well-adjusted person who can cope favorably with life’s demands. Dr. Salomonson had a passion for her patients, said fellow plastic surgeon Michael McGuire, MD, at the memorial Mass held at the Sister Marie Madeleine Chapel. More than 250 physicians, patients, families and co-workers were in attendance. Said McGuire, “All physicians care for their patients, but Dr. Salomonson truly loved them.” At a later gathering called “Remembering Dr. Janet Day,” Dr. Salomonson’s patients and family members were invited to share their special memories of her with the cleft palate team. Many brought photographs or wrote cards and notes of appreciation honoring Dr. Salomonson. One patient’s family wrote, “We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to

know you and so honored that you cared for our child from the moment she was born. You were comforting, talented, brilliant and unwavering in your commitment to help not just one child, but children who needed you worldwide.” Susan Wilson, Foundation liaison for the cleft palate team, shared, “Dr. Salomonson lived a lifetime caring for others, leaving smiles that will last many lifetimes wherever she went. We will never forget her.” ●

If you are interested in learning more about The Cleft Palate Center at Saint John’s Health Center, please contact Susan Wilson at 310-829-8593.


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Strong Partnerships For Families program participants Janice and her son.

The Child and Family Development Center addresses often-overlooked behavioral health needs. Like its parent organization, Saint John’s Health Center, the Child and Family Development Center (CFDC), located on the west side of Saint John’s Health Center campus, is rooted in the tradition of Catholic, nonprofit healthcare. But CFDC shines a beacon of hope above and beyond what even the most welcoming of hospitals can provide. “For more than 50 years, our goal has been to foster empowerment, growth and behaviors that enable children, adolescents and adults to succeed,” says Rebecca Refuerzo, LCSW, executive director of the CFDC. “Although the clinic is located in Santa Monica, approximately 75% of the children and families receiving services live in pockets of poverty on the Westside.”

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The CFDC is one of the few remaining community mental health programs directed at the emotional and

We go out there and build relationships with the families, and we take away the stigma so children can grow up to be healthy individuals.” developmental needs of low-income and minority children and families. Established

in 1962 by an alliance between the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, the Kennedy Foundation and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the center serves all at-risk or overburdened families with children from birth to age 24. Priority is given to underserved populations. Tripling its services over the past 18 years—the center now serves more than 1,000 needy families annually—mental health professionals from the center travel to local public schools, community centers, parks and homes, reinforcing the concept of a “clinic without walls,” Refuerzo says. “As an organization, we have placed a high value on primary prevention by promoting the growth and development of children 0 to 5 years of age,” she


The Center makes early childhood development a priority.

explains. For example, the Preschool Mental Health Consultation program is in response to alarming statistics that show pre-kindergarten children are expelled from daycare and early education centers at a rate more than three times that of older children. By embedding highlytrained CFDC therapists in preschool environments, children with emotional, behavioral or development differences can be screened and linked early to intervention services, helping them better fulfill their potential of being school-ready. Partnerships For Families is a program targeting pregnant women and mothers with newborns who are at risk of child maltreatment or neglect due to substance abuse, domestic violence, severe postpartum depression or the chronic stress of living in poverty. Other programs include the nationally recognized Therapeutic Preschool; schoolbased services such as the Child & Youth Development Project and Families and

Therapeutic preschool participant Michael

Schools Together; clinic-based services such as Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clinic, and Child Abuse Treatment and Intervention Services. The Child and Family Development Center provides almost $4 million in healthcare services annually, according

One thing that makes us unique is our capacity to serve the Spanish-speaking community.” to Ruth Cañas, a licensed clinical social worker and program manager of outpatient services. The center is funded by LA County Department of Mental Health, First 5 LA, the city of Santa Monica, private and corporate foundations and major donors.

“One thing that makes us unique is our capacity to serve the Spanish-speaking community,” Cañas says. “We make every effort to hire people who are fluent so we can provide not only linguistically appropriate but also culturally appropriate care.” Whether helping children reach their potential, strengthening families to keep them intact or providing emotional and psychological support, CFDC is the light at the end of the tunnel for many. “We go out there and build relationships with the families,” Cañas says, “and we take away the stigma so children can grow up to be healthy individuals.” Many thanks to recent donors: The Ahmanson Foundation; Atlas Family Foundation; Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation; Irene Dunne Guild and Weingart Foundation for supporting the CFDC. If you are interested in learning more about the center, please contact Wendy Merritt at 310-829-8443.


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Pre-op nurses including, top: Pamela Shapshak, Barbara Banks, Lim McGaffey, Vanessa Kenley, Shannon Wickstrom Bottom: Vilma Medina, Romina Manlapat, Tess Duenas, Irene Neal.

28 Âť


Hard work with a touch of humor


Tess Duenas guides a pre-operative unit that cherishes teamwork and knows how to reassure even the most anxious patients. WRITTEN BY LORIE PARCH PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAUREN PRESSEY

f it weren’t for a grateful uncle, Tessana SubangDuenas, RN, very likely would have become a missionary. She grew up in the Philippines as the daughter of a minister and a teacher and expected to follow in their footsteps. But in high school she helped care for an uncle who had surgery. “After I took care of my uncle, he planted a seed,” says Duenas, who goes by Tess. “He told me that I would make a good nurse.” Duenas went on to graduate from Central Philippine University, the first nursing school in the country founded by American missionaries. “A few years ago I told my uncle how thankful I was that he told me I would be a good nurse; he was very happy,” she recalls. The idea that was planted in a thoughtful teenager has since grown into 28 years of service as a registered nurse, 23 of those spent at Saint John’s Health Center. Duenas worked for 17 years as the nurse in charge of the oncology unit, followed by six years as the nurse in charge of the preoperative unit—the job she holds today. She helps lead a team of about two dozen, a group she describes as professional, intelligent, compassionate, fun and focused on “great cooperation and teamwork in giving quality care. They’re very smart, intuitive and empathetic.” Duenas and the Saint John’s Health Center pre-op team share a simple philosophy about nursing care. “To me, it’s the sincerity, it’s the love and compassion for each individual who comes through the door that’s important,” she explains. “Rich, poor, middle-class—doesn’t matter. To me,

everyone should be treated the same, and I try to be a role model for that.” When she began her position in the pre-op unit, some team members thought she was strict, Duenas recalls. Now, though, Duenas says the new protocols and efficiency measures she and her team have implemented mean she can relax more and enjoy the camaraderie. “Of course we work hard, but we do it with humor and laughter; and we try to impart that camaraderie not only to patients but with each other, the doctors and the hospital as a whole.” Duenas says she’s impressed every day by the high quality of surgical care that patients at the Health Center receive.

The nurses are good at what they do and it shows; they keep me feeling reassured, calm and confident that I am in good hands.” “We have a lot of cardiac cases and ortho cases like hip, knee and spine surgery—our hospital is really great at that,” she notes. “We have a lot of patients from all around the country and sometimes out of the country because of the expertise that our doctors offer. We prepare the patients for surgery, making sure that they are safe.” The pre-op unit earns plenty of accolades. Recently, the team’s careful review of a patient’s full medical records revealed a

resuscitation order in the event the patient went into cardiac arrest. In reality, the patient and his wife wanted only palliative end-of-life care. The nurses “taught me to always address this issue every time he gets admitted,” the patient’s wife recalled. “No one had ever taught me that.” Another patient related that her doctor admitted her to Saint John’s Health Center in part because of the great nursing care. “The nurses are good at what they do and it shows; they keep me feeling reassured, calm and confident that I am in good hands,” she explains. Duenas is a big fan of the technological advances that make nursing more efficient, less labor-intensive and safer. “They call me a techno-geek here at work,” laughs Duenas, who remembers well how lifechanging intravenous pumps were for nurses back in the early 1980s. She’s especially excited to see electronic medical records fully implemented too. “I would love to have everyone on the same page when we go electronic. That will make our nursing care safer and more streamlined for the patient.” Ultimately, though, Duenas’ aim is to help lead a team that embodies that same spirit of service that she witnessed among the missionaries in her youth and continues to observe in her fellow nurses and other Health Center caregivers. “It’s that emphasis on quality of care with respect, compassion and love. I see it every day embodied in our team, in how we take good care of our patients,” she says. “We’re growing and learning, being taught something new every day from a doctor, patient or a co-worker. Our care is always evolving, and we’re only getting better.”


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The Goodwill Ambassadors New leadership team reaffirms Guild’s strong commitment to support the Health Center. WRITTEN BY SANDI DRAPER PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAUREN PRESSEY


ate Prudente and Ana Belden are following in the footsteps of Irene Dunne, an actress in the 1930s and ’40s and five-time Academy Award nominee. No, the two aren’t walking the red carpet. Rather, they are following Dunne’s leadinglady role as a philanthropic supporter of Saint John’s Health Center. Prudente and Belden are the new president and vice president, respectively, of the Irene Dunne Guild (IDG), a group of philanthropic women that has been raising funds for programs and services and volunteering in many ways at the Health Center since 1987. Prudente became involved with the Guild in 2006 when she attended its “Think Pink” women’s health educational event and luncheon. She became acquainted with Belden through various Guild events. They also have children of similar ages, so their paths crossed for several years before they joined forces for the Guild. In addition, Prudente’s husband is an internist and current chairman of medicine at Saint John’s Health Center, and Belden “comes from a family of doctors.”

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Ana Belden, left, and Kate Prudente will lead the Irene Dunne Guild in 2014.

“I wanted to find a way to become involved,” Prudente says. “I started out in the membership committee, but for the last few years have served on the committee that selects which new hospital projects we will fund, which is extremely gratifying.” The Guild has about 120 members who are asked to volunteer for at least one Guild program. “Some members definitely have favorite projects,” Prudente says. “But ideally, they rotate in and out of committees so that they can work with different women in the Guild and use their skills and energies in new ways.” She adds, “Our outgoing president and vice president, Catherine Corlin and Judy Piro, are terrific examples, as they have both served the Guild in countless ways, including chairing the Caritas Gala and serving on numerous Guild committees. It is an honor to follow in their footsteps and represent this group of women who accomplish wonderful things for Saint John’s in a very understated way.” Guild participation is a wonderful way to give back to a hospital that’s dedicated to the community, says Corlin. “The care at Saint John’s Health Center is compassionate and also cutting edge. We are ranked one of the 50 best hospitals in the country. The members of the Guild are very dedicated to the Health Center. Most of them receive their care here.” Guild members range in age from their 20s into their 80s, Corlin notes. Members can become deeply involved in activities or, if they work or are are busy with young children, can volunteer for a minimum number of hours. The new team of Prudente and Belden will bring out the best talents of the members, Corlin

predicts. “I’m really looking forward to working with them. They will be a great leadership team.” Prudente says Guild members are proud to represent the Health Center. “For the coming year, I hope to emphasize our role as goodwill ambassadors to the community as in our mission statement. With the new sponsorship of Saint John’s, I believe Guild members—who are active, dynamic women in the community—can play a key role in helping communicate some of the changes at Saint John's.”

“It is an honor to follow in their footsteps and represent this group of women who accomplish wonderful things for Saint John’s in a very understated way.” And speaking like a true vice president, Belden says: “My #1 goal is to serve Kate, our members and our Foundation. If I do that, I know I will be serving the hospital and the community and its needs.” Among the Guild activities are: • The Patron Drive, a letterwriting fundraiser campaign held each year that has raised more than $850,000 for special projects at the hospital. • Caritas Gala, an annual blacktie dinner award ceremony hosted in partnership with the Foundation trustees that has raised more than $11 million, since inception, for the benefit

of the Health Center. • The Irene Dunne Guild Gift Shop, started with a grant from the IDG and staffed with Guild members and hospital volunteers. • Angels of the ER, a nationally recognized program that trains volunteers to assist patients and families in the emergency room. • Think Pink, a women’s health and wellness educational event held each May. • A multi-media library, which provides books, CDs and DVDs for patients and their loved ones and magazines in hospital waiting areas. • Treats for Caregivers, which provides monthly healthy snack baskets to various departments on a rotating basis. • Toys in the ER, which provides toys to pediatric patients and to children waiting with patients in the emergency room. • Care and Share Closet, which is maintained by Angels who organize donated, gently used clothing to distribute to patients, as needed. Actress Irene Dunne became known as the “First Lady of Saint John’s” for her more than four decades of contributions to the Health Center. One of her granddaughters continues the family tradition as a Guild member. “One of the most attractive things about the Guild is the many ways that members can get involved—from distributing treats for caregivers in the hospital and volunteering in the gift shop to helping plan and execute our major events,” Prudente says. “The Guild offers a nice mix of ‘front-line’ and ‘behind-the-scenes’ volunteering. We are very excited about the future of Saint John’s.” If you are interested in learning more about the Irene Dunne Guild, please contact Cookie Galanti at 310-829-8423.


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Opening Celebration of Mullin Plaza Foundation trustees and friends celebrated the completion of the Health Center’s new entrance, Mullin Plaza and Mullin Gardens, with a private garden party honoring benefactors Peter and Merle Mullin on Sunday, October 20. The celebration included a parade of classic cars from the collections of Saint John’s Health Center trustees and friends Peter Mullin, Rick Caruso, Bruce Meyer and Jack Nethercutt. There was also a ribbon-cutting by the Mullins and speeches from Foundation chair Donna Tuttle and chair-elect Dr. John M. Robertson, introductions by the Health Center's own Fr. Patrick Comerford and Monsignor Hugh Connolly from Saint Patrick’s College in Ireland, and comments from both Peter and Merle. Tenor Haqumai Sharpe performed stirring renditions of “God Bless America” and “You Raise Me Up.” Fr. Patrick Cahalan, chancellor of Loyola Marymount University, said in his invocation, “Let us pray a blessing on this beautifully adorned and welcoming Mullin Plaza. Let us pray that this Plaza and Health Center will serve as a spring of life-giving water for the patients and that they recognize in its presence He who makes all things new.” Made possible with a $15 million gift from the Mullins, the gardens boast a hedge maze, Asian-style gravel garden, walking paths and a 58-foot-long water feature.

1. Event centerpieces designed by Merle Mullin, Suzane Le May and Art Luna 2. Michael Hunn, Michael Wall, Merle and Peter Mullin, Donna Tuttle, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, Dr. John Robertson 3. Merle and Peter Mullin 4. Angela Wu, Virginia Wu, Maria McClay, Ruth Weil 5. Sisters Nancy Svetlecic, Therese Zimmerman, Constance Phelps, Maureen Hall 6. Dr. John Robertson, Dr. Anton Bilchik, Dr. Paul Natterson, Dr. Stanton Axline, Dr. Peter Pelikan, Dr. Gilbert Kuhn, Dr. Russ Kino, Dr. John Sellman in front of a 1953 Peugeot Type 203 S3 Ambulance from the Schlumpf Reserve Collection in Malmerspach, France, now part of the Mullin Collection. 7. Sister Maureen Craig, Robert Wagner, Jan Tarble




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Saint John’s Community Open House and Health Fair



With the long-awaited completion of Mullin Plaza and Mullin Gardens, Saint John’s Health Center celebrated the opening of its doors in grand style with a community open house and health fair on October 5. The Westside community was invited to take advantage of free health screenings, giveaways, hospital tours, opportunity drawings, face painting, arts and crafts, and booths with everything from healthy recipes to information on the latest in healthcare. 1. Children enjoyed crafts and snacks. 2. Dr. Maggie DiNome and family 3. Dr. John Robertson, Michael Wall,





Ruth Weil, Jerry and Pat Epstein, Dr. Gil Kuhn, Sister Therese Zimmerman, Ken Meehan 4. "Pawsitive Pet" and friend 5. The Margie Petersen Breast Center team 6. Dr. Marilou Terpenning, Dr. William Katkov, Dr. Daniel Kelly

Irene Dunne Guild Think Pink Boutique and Educational Luncheon Held at the Upper Bel-Air Bay Club on May 8, the Irene Dunne Guild Think Pink boutique and educational luncheon was a magnificent success with more than 300 in attendance. The annual educational event promoted women’s health and featured Saint John’s Health Center physicians who presented a variety of timely healthcare topics. A heartfelt thank you to cochairs Fran Flanagan and Melinda Casey and the Think Pink committee for planning a lovely day celebrating mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. Proceeds from the day’s boutique sales, as well as individual donations, benefited the Guild’s special patient programs and services at Saint John’s Health Center. 1. Think Pink Committee 2. Co-chairs Melinda Casey and Fran Flanagan 3. Keynote speaker Dr. Ruth Sorotzkin 1




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Palisades/Will Rogers 5K & 10K Run On July 4, thousands of participants, including Saint John’s Foundation trustees, took part in the Palisades/Will Rogers 5K & 10K Run. Thanks to Jerry and Pat Epstein, the generous benefactors who enabled this sponsorship, Saint John’s Health Center was proud to sponsor the run again this year. All event proceeds supported the Optimist Club youth charities. 1. Robert Klein, Pat Epstein, Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld (honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades and race starter) and Jerry Epstein 2. Ambassador Frank Baxter and family 3. Jerry Epstein addresses the crowd. 2









Planned Giving Donor Recognition Lunch Saint John’s Health Center Foundation was pleased to honor our planned giving donors, Friends for the Future, on September 18 at the Riviera Country Club. Friends for the Future is a distinctive group of individuals who have thoughtfully provided for the Health Center through their estate and/or charitable plans. Guests enjoyed an update and group discussion with John M. Robertson, MD, Foundation chairman-elect, who shared his unique insights regarding the recent meeting between the Saint John’s Foundation board of trustees and Providence leadership, along with the latest news on our sponsorship change to Providence Health & Services. John Wayne Cancer Institute’s Guardians of the Future were also in attendance. 1. Ellie Goldman, Dr. Sophie Andriaschuk, Dr. Robert Amonic 2. Catherine and Daniel DiSipio 3. Michael Wall and Dr. John Robertson 4. Zoe Koufopoulos and Marie Fouts 5. Mary Ann Weiss and Marvin Weiss 6. Allan Goldman

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Your Greatest

L E GACY BE N E F I T S th e L I V E S of OT H E RS.

Your life is filled with generosity – toward family, friends and your community. By remembering Saint John’s Health Center in your estate plans, you are ensuring that your legacy will continue well into the future. A bequest can help fund cutting-edge technology as well as innovative clinical care that helps shape the medicine of tomorrow. All of this can be done without impacting resources during your lifetime. You will leave a lasting legacy of giving and make a significant difference for generations to come.

If you would like additional information or sample bequest language, please call Tanya Lopez at 310.582.7095 or email at or visit



Saint John’s Health Center Foundation 2121 Santa Monica Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90404 USA 310-829-8424

Medical Missions

From Africa to Asia, Saint John's Health Center staffers care for people in need. page20 Since its founding in 1942 by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Saint John’s Health Center has been providing the patients and families of Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and ocean communities with breakthrough medicine and inspired healing. Saint John’s provides a spectrum of treatment and diagnostic services with distinguished areas of excellence in cancer, spine, orthopedics, neurosurgery, women’s health, cardiac and specialized programs such as the internationally acclaimed John Wayne Cancer Institute. Saint John’s is dedicated to bringing to the community the most innovative advances in medicine and technology.

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The Pre-op Team

These nurses enjoy their work and each other.

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