From Craig Dresang, Executive Director of Yolo Hospice
Thirty-six years ago, a group of grass-roots volunteers from Yolo County did something extraordinary. They banded together to challenge the status quo and to do what the healthcare system could not; Create an innovative and even controversial model of care that would give quality of life at the end of life; birthing an organization that would deliver on compassion, respect and dignity for terminally ill patients.
Together, these gutsy individuals selflessly directed their energy, time and resources into a movement that would eventually make a profound difference in the lives of thousands of people. They did this without employees, Medicare reimbursements, and with little community support. Yet, through determination and a shared vision they breathed life into a fledgling micro-organization called Yolo Hospice.
Over a span of nearly four decades there have been many challenges and changes, ranging from regulatory and financial hurdles to competition and transitions in leadership. But through it all, the people who have continued breathing life into Yolo Hospice have remained squarely and selflessly focused on the best possible patient care.
Recent changes in our shared organization have sparked a lot of healthy dialogue about the “Heart of Yolo Hospice.” The best description I’ve heard regarding our organizational heart came from Janene Ramos, Executive Admin. She said, “Every time I see one of our nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, or volunteers walk through the doors of our building, I think . . . there walks the heart of Yolo Hospice.” Indeed, it is this collective energy, work and care provided by our 150 employees, volunteers and dedicated board members. Our founding vision and spirit, as well as our core values, remain. In fact they define us …and they will continue to do so well into the future. I’m grateful for those who choose to be a part of this important mission.
To that end, we extend a hearty congratulations to three newly appointed members of the Yolo Hospice Leadership team.
Stephanie Gwiazdon MSN/ED, RN, CHM, CHPN, has been promoted to the position of director of patient care services. In addition to having 24 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, Stephanie is a seasoned hospice professional, having worked at both Mercy Hospice and Snowline Hospice. During her tenure at Mercy, she co-supervised a department of 30 full-time staff who helped process 60-70 admissions monthly and maintained an average daily census (ADC) of 110-120 patients. In addition, she maintained compliance with State/Federal licensing and regulatory requirements, Joint Commission accreditation, and the Medicare Hospice Conditions of Participation.
Carlye Wilder, MSW. Carlye is a former Yolo Hospice volunteer who has returned as the organization’s new volunteer coordinator. She previously worked for Davis Community Meals as a supportive services coordinator, and also served as a group facilitator for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).
Leah Morris, MPH, MS, Family Nurse Practitioner, has transitioned from a part-time to a fulltime role with Yolo Hospice. Leah has more than 30 years of experience in health care, ranging from direct clinical care to senior leadership in the managed care field. She has previously served as a lead consultant for the California Health Benefit Exchange and has provided leadership support for the Independence Medical Group of Central California, serving 25,000 Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal members in Tulane County.
We also welcome our new members to the Board of Directors:
Scott Christensen, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine Oncology at UD Davis;
Jackie Clark, Chief Executive Officer for Health Care for the California prison system; Colleen Perry FNP, Director of Nursing at CommuniCare Health Centers;
Emily Murdock RN PHN, Urgent Care Clinician at UC Davis’ Health and Wellness Center;
Ralph Libet, MD, retired Kaiser Permanente physician;
Sharon Blaha, Healthcare Educator and Fundraiser.
Please visit our website www.yolohospice.org to view the extensive profiles of our board members who provide so much for our organization.
As the first established hospice in the Sacramento Valley, Yolo Hospice has the longest regional track record as experts in caring for people who have a life-limiting illness.