Palliative Care

Pathways Home Health & Hospice Honors PAMF’s Dr. Kushlan

Paula Kushlan, M.D.

For more than three decades, Paula Kushlan, M.D., has provided cancer care at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Palo Alto Center. She regularly receives warm expressions of gratitude from her patients and on October 5, 2012, she was honored by  Pathways Home Health & Hospice for her years of dedication and service to the home health and hospice community.

Dr. Kushlan received a special 35th Anniversary Physician Award. The award recognizes physicians who significantly contribute to promoting the Pathways Mission: compassionate, family-centered care in a patient’s home.

“Hospice nurses are my feet, eyes and ears in the patient’s house,” Dr. Kushlan said. An oncologist for 35 years, Dr. Kushlan describes her career guiding people through the diagnosis of cancer as “a passion and a privilege.” She considers it an “honor.”

“Pathways has partnered with Paula to care for hundreds of patients through the decades of her career,” said Sandra Coolidge, Pathways’ vice president of admissions, community relations & philanthropy. “Dr. Kushlan has always been a strong advocate for her patients’ right to dignified and compassionate care in the face of serious illness.”

Pathways CEO Barbara Burgess,  said, “Dr. Paula Kushlan embraces the honor of helping people through a difficult and frightening part of their lives, whether it is a curable disease requiring complex therapy, a controllable chronic disease involving ongoing monitoring and therapy, or a life-limiting illness necessitating efforts directed at comfort and support for patient and family.”

In addition to Dr. Kushlan, other “One from the Heart” award recipients this year were Doreta Strotman (Volunteer Award) and the Los Altos United Methodist Church  (Organization Award).

Pathways’ 22nd annual breakfast  was held at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel in Palo Alto. The annual event attracts more than 600 community leaders, medical professionals, philanthropists and other hospice supporters, and is also open to the public.

Emmy, Peabody and Murrow Award winner Rita Williams of KTVU Channel 2 returned for her 13th year as host of the event. The featured speaker at this year’s event was author, journalist and photographer Jon Katz.  Katz shared endearing and funny stories about the joy and love he and Izzy, his rescued Border Collie, brought to hospice patients. Their story is told in his heartwarming book, Izzy and Lenore: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me.
Events and photos from the “One from the Heart” breakfast were tweeted using the twitter hashtag #OFTH.
About Pathways Home Health & Hospice

Pathways Home Health & Hospice is a community based, not-for-profit organization that provides a family of health services at home to families in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977, a comprehensive array of health and supportive services including home health and hospice care, private duty non-medical and personal care, elder care, care for children with life-threatening illnesses, grief support and community education. For more information, call 888-755-7855 or visit

PAMF Adds Palliative Care Services in Palo Alto

Sharon Tapper, M.D., Medical Director, Palliative Care Program, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

Expanding on the successful Palliative Care services program launched at Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Santa Cruz in 2011, PAMF has added Palliative Care services to its Palo Alto Center as of June 2012.

The PAMF Palliative Care team now includes a six-person group in Santa Cruz and five team members in Palo Alto.  Services will be offered in the Mountain View area later this year, and the goal is to expand Palliative Care services to include San Mateo and Alameda counties in 2013.

Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. Palliative Care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. This specialized medical service is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment.

Sharon Tapper, M.D., is Medical Director of PAMF’s Palliative Care program. Board certified in Hospice & Palliative Medicine and Internal Medicine, she serves as an Innovation Advisor for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s Innovation Advisors Program. She is also Chief of Staff of Dominican Hospital Palliative Care in Santa Cruz, and Medical Director of Dominical Hospital Palliative Care and Support Services.

“Our goal is to improve quality of life for both patients and their families,” said Dr. Tapper. “We offer a comprehensive palliative care and support services program that is both compassionate and coordinated to help manage each patient optimally. Read More

Dr. Sharon Tapper Selected for New Innovation Advisors Program

Sharon Tapper, M.D., has been selected to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Innovation Advisors Program. The initiative, launched by the CMS Innovation Center in October 2011, will help health professionals deepen skills that will drive improvements to patient care and reduce costs. 

Dr. Tapper is one of 73 individuals from 27 states and the District of Columbia participating in the Innovation Advisors Program.  After an initial orientation phase, Innovation Advisors will work with the CMS Innovation Center to test new models of care delivery in their own organizations and communities.  They will also create partnerships to find new ideas that work and share them regionally and across the United States.

Funding for this initiative was made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Tapper brings considerable expertise to the advisory board. She has served as medical director of Hospice of Santa Cruz County (2003-2010), medical director and creator of the Palliative Care Program at Dominican CHW Hospital (2004-present), and vice chief of staff at Dominican CHW Hospital in Santa Cruz (2009-2011). She is currently the chief of staff for Dominican CHW Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Tapper is the regional director of Inpatient Palliative Care for Sutter Health’s Peninsula Coastal Region, and the medical director and creator of outpatient Palliative Care and Support Services for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. She earned her medical degree from the University of Maryland, and completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis.  Dr. Tapper is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

“There has been an incredible groundswell of interest in becoming an Innovation Advisor.  It’s clear that doctors, hospitals and health care providers are enthusiastic about implementing the Affordable Care Act and strengthening our health care system,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  Read More