California Stories

Fall 2018

The big picture

Somchai “Sam” Supawanich, a surgeon-turned hospice patient, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and found solace he’d spend his last days with his wife of 50 years. Sadly, she died unexpectedly and he shares with hospice physician Dr. Martina Meier his meditative insights on the profoundness and impermanence of life.

Summer 2018

Cavernous malformation

Tara Cowell and colleague Jim Watson are attorneys for Providence St. Joseph Health. Tara shares how her struggle with a brain disorder compelled her to relinquish some of her Type-A super-mom/lawyer traits, and learn how to explore and appreciate the singular joys of her community.

The septuagenarian graduate

Marvin Farber, 97, regales hospice chaplain Kevin Deegan with tales of working in the defense and insurance industries, experiencing a nervous breakdown and shock therapy, loving his wife, Lucy, and fulfilling a life-long ambition to earn a college degree in journalism when he was 79 years young.

The grateful patient

Peter Lynch survived quadruple bypass surgery years ago, and the experience moved him to give back to his community. The former Warner Bros. retail executive shares with Patricia Modrzejewski, Providence St. Joseph Health’s chief development officer, how the mission for caring for the poor and vulnerable drives him to serve the Providence St. Joseph Foundation.

Holding Aubrielle

Holly Rossiter and her family sought the help of a perinatal hospice program to help her deliver her baby, Aubrielle, who was diagnosed in utero with a terminal illness. Holly recounts the journey with nurse Debra Bolton and how it forever changed her.

Treading lightly

Annette Walker, former president of strategy at Providence St. Joseph Health, shares with Erik Wexler, PSJH’s regional chief executive for Southern California, how her father could have benefited from less intensive medical care toward the end. She also reveals that a 14-day, 220-mile pilgrimage in Spain taught her that “it’s hard not to love people when you get to know people.”

Standing strong

Ali Santore, vice president of government-public affairs at Providence St. Joseph Health, and her grandmother, Dolores Costello, trade insights on how five generations of strong women in their family – starting with a nurse in the Civil War – have raised, and continue to raise, strong women.

Finding her voice

Torrie Fields, palliative care advocate, cancer survivor and senior program manager at Blue Shield in California, found her stronger voice as a patient through palliative care. She shares with Dr. Gregg VandeKieft, associate medical director at the Institute for Human Caring, how transformative the experience was for her and her oncologist.

Answering the call

Recovering journalists Becky Nappi, director of mission integration at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., and Michael Drummond, director of communications at the Institute for Human Caring in Torrance, Calif., share how they heeded the power of calling and the spiritual forces that moved them to work at Providence St. Joseph Health.

Winter 2018

A soulful force

Chaplain Denise Hess worked alongside palliative care nurse Marianne Ayala for years. Denise, who has moved on to a new role in a different state, shares her belief that science and spirituality can coexist in health care, and how she is determined to serve as a harmonizing agent.

Scary, stubborn stones

Terri Warren, vice president at Providence TrinityCare Hospice, and Jennifer Bellucci, the organization’s chief nursing officer, unpack the fear surrounding Jennifer’s mother’s hospitalization for kidney stones and the impact the ordeal had on the family.

Fall 2017

Confiding with a king

Production Credit: Tomorrow’s Event Productions

Jay Hess, donor relations coordinator for the TrinityCare Hospice Foundation, shares with colleague Chloe Medrano his career shift from building custom cars to raising money for children in hospice care. He also reveals his approach in asking for donations – molded by nuggets of wisdom he collected from the king of Bahrain.

Spring 2017

Lungs filled with tumors, hearts filled with love

Production Credit: Tomorrow’s Event Productions

Days before his mother’s birthday, Bryce Fisher, then 21-years old, received heartbreaking news that he had a rare form of cancer. He and his mother, Nancy, sit down to recount those sobering days following the diagnosis, acknowledge the triumphs and miracles in the challenging times since, and speak about the ongoing journey that continues to bring them closer to one another.

A nurse goes in for open-heart surgery

Production Credit: StoryCorps

Lindsey Burrell and her mother, Julie Baker, both ICU nurses at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., talk about Lindsey’s recent open heart surgery and how the experience has fundamentally changed their approach to nursing.

Touch becomes sacred

Production Credit: Tomorrow’s Event Productions

Ahmed Pierstorff is a Muslim, and social touch of the opposite sex is prohibited. Yet, his job as a registered nurse often necessitates physical contact with the opposite sex. Here he shares with his mentor, Coleen Dumenjich, how he navigates his professional duties with his religious devotion.

How can you take care of dying children?

Production Credit: Addis Media Group

Dr. Glen Komatsu, CMO of Providence TrinityCare Hospice & Regional Palliative Care, reflects on the clinical skill and emotional resilience required to care for dying children. He shares the story of 6-year-old Maddox, who faced death with insight and courage.

The hardest conversation I’ve ever had

Production Credit: StoryCorps

Mary Kingston, chief executive of Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in Torrance and San Pedro in Southern California, shares with Michael Jongsma, chief nursing officer, the anguish of honoring her father’s wishes to be removed from a respirator, and why having an advance directive is a profound gift for our loved ones.

'You had a heart transplant?'

 You had a heart transplant?’
Production Credit: Tomorrow's Event Productions

Pat Aidem's husband, Richard, received a donated heart from a 20-year-old. Richard tells the story of meeting the young man's mother one day, and how she wanted to listen to her son’s beating heart again.

Winter 2016

Encountering Eddie Van Halen

Production Credit: Michael Addis

Providence’s Mike Drummond talks with film composer Roger Neill about their departed friend, Eric, and his unreal encounter with rock guitar legend Eddie Van Halen.

Cancer – best thing that ever happened to me

Production Credit: Mindy Fortune

Providence’s Tue Nguyen shares with mentor Jennifer Kozakowski how his bout with tongue cancer taught him to savor life and cherish what matters most.

I call this a gift

Production Credit: Mindy Fortune

James Raspe, an outdoors enthusiast and a patient at Providence, shares with Chaplain Stephanie Ryu how his struggle with renal failure has given him the gift of empathy and a purpose to help others.

The secret to life

Production Credit: StoryCorps

Dr. Ira Byock, founder and chief medical officer of the Providence Institute for Human Caring, and Dr. BJ Miller, a palliative care physician at UCSF Medical Center, share thoughts on being in the moment, caring for the seriously ill, caring for yourself, and the secret to life.

I’m not ready for palliative care!

Production Credit: StoryCorps

Rebekah Riemer’s grandmother died shortly after being diagnosed with a form of leukemia. Nine months later, Rebekah was diagnosed with a similar disease. Now a nurse, she shares with Dr. Colin Scibetta her healing journey with the same palliative team that cared for her grandmother and the impact that’s had on her work.

She joined the team that cared for her aunt

Production Credit: StoryCorps

Salve Bautista’s aunt received palliative care through Providence, which awoke a passion in Salve for this field of medicine. The palliative staff at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance were surprised and delighted when Salve re-entered their lives – this time not as a family member of a patient, but as a job applicant.