At Skirball Hospice, a Commitment to Comfort and Care
For both patients and their families, navigating end-of-life care is sobering stuff. The logistics can be complicated, and the investment of physical and emotional energy can be draining. Yet, notes Sandra Kaihatu, executive director of Los Angeles Jewish Health’s Skirball Hospice, it can also be an opportunity to find comfort and nurturing support – the kind of warm and compassionate assistance for which Skirball Hospice has come to be known.
“It’s important to discuss with families what care can look like at the end of life,” she says. “We can offer so much.”
Sandra, who has worked in hospice for over two decades, arrived at Skirball Hospice this past January and says there were two things that immediately stood out for her.
“Our staff is incredible, and no matter where they sit in the organization – whether they are nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, or part of our administrative team – they’re passionate about getting good care out the door,” she says. “They are also committed to going above and beyond, even if it’s after hours; the critical concern is always making sure our families are as well supported as possible.”
Under Sandra’s direction, that support means putting families first and prioritizing the broad range of their needs. “We can’t cure people, but we can change their end-of-life experience,” she says. “I believe we’re only as good as the last patient we touch. That’s what keeps me going.”
In the past quarter, Skirball Hospice has served nearly 140 patients in a coverage area that spans from Santa Clarita to Westchester, and Santa Monica to Pasadena. In terms of patient capacity, the organization is poised for growth.
“There are so many avenues for expansion, whether it’s bringing on more after-hours staff, additional per diem nurses, or more LVN’s (licensed vocational nurses) who want to do continuous care,” Sandra says. “We are dedicated to doing whatever we can to be of service to more families in Southern California.”
At Skirball Hospice, Sandra feels fortunate to partner with a team she sees as heads and shoulders above the rest. “The culture here is focused on empowering each employee to do our best in order to be as productive as possible, and that’s wonderful,” she says. “It leads to excellent collaborations, across the organization, with amazingly bright colleagues who share a common value of putting in the work to make a difference.”
Sandra says the ethos and environment at Skirball Hospice make her job a pleasure – but that the real joy comes from knowing she is having a real impact in people’s lives. “Death is something we all confront eventually,” she says. “What a privilege to be able to make it a smoother and more comfortable journey. That’s our job at Skirball Hospice, and we endeavor to do our best every single day.”