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  D E P A R T M E N T S  
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DEPARTMENTS
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PORTRAITS OF GIVING:

A Living Legacy: Area resident bequeaths large donation to hospice program

 "" PHOTO —  The late Ken Shaw bequeathed a sizable gift to the UC Davis Hospice program.  ""
 


The late Ken Shaw bequeathed a sizable gift to the UC Davis Hospice program.

 
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When Ken Shaw decided to make a substantial donation from his estate to benefit the UC Davis Hospice Program, he probably was unaware that it would be the largest donation in the program's history.

The former Citrus Heights resident, who traveled to several continents during a career in the Air Force, lived quietly and frugally in his retirement years at his apartment at Crosswood Oaks Retirement Community. People who knew him say Shaw was a reserved and deeply private man who never married. He lived in the Sacramento area alone, although his extended family lives in Idaho.

When he reached his mid-80s and his health deteriorated, one of his caregivers said he thought he might need home health or hospice care so that he could remain there until the end of his life. Although he never used UC Davis hospice care, untold numbers of terminally ill patients will be able to obtain hospice services because of his generous gift to the UC Davis Hospice Program.

Shaw, who died on Feb. 14, 2008, at age 87, bequeathed nearly $270,000 to UC Davis.

Debra Genovia, an area gerontologist who provides private geriatric care management, met Shaw and began working with him in 2004. They developed a close friendship as she helped him organize his belongings and coordinated and monitored his health care.

'A gentle soul'

Shaw "was truly a gentleman in every sense of the word," Genovia says. "He was the nicest, gentle soul. He loved music and he loved to sing. He was also a fabulous painter and took some art classes at his senior living facility. He was an avid reader until he couldn't comprehend anymore."

 
What is a hospice?
  • Hospice is a philosophy of palliative care for dying people and special care for their families.
  • Hospice treats the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient. Hospice care takes place in the patient's home, or a home-like setting. The goal is to allow patients to be as free from pain and as comfortable as possible so they can make the most of the time that remains to them.
  • The hospice team consists of the hospice coordinator, physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacist, dietitian, chaplain, home health aides, volunteers and bereavement counselors.
  • Hospice considers helping the family an essential part of its mission. Bereavement counseling and support to the family and loved ones of the patient after death are services provided by hospice.
  • Volunteer support is an essential part of the hospice program.
  • Hospice believes the quality of life to be as important as length of life.
  • Hospice is a benefit covered by Medicare, Medi-Cal, and private insurances. Many hospices have the ability to donate care to nonfunded patients.

The time to learn about hospice is before illness strikes.

  • Hospice should be discussed as an option with any patient who is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Health care professionals are obligated to educate patients about their options, whether it be curative or palliative. Planning for the future is essential for anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • It is the responsibility of physicians to discuss terminality, treatment options and intensity of care desired. The nursing role is to advocate for the rights of the patient, continue educating about their treatment options whether curative or palliative and to continue communication with the physician. It is essential to make a referral to Social Services when any patient is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. They will assist with living wills, DPA, DPAHC and future planning.
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When it came to money, Shaw was "extremely thrifty," Genovia says. "But in his last years he decided he wanted a portion of his money to benefit others."

Genovia says Shaw recognized that other elderly people lived distant from family members like he did. "He understood that hospice could be a godsend. He thought it would an important program to support."

Shaw's donation is the largest ever received by the UC Davis Hospice Program, says Frederick J. Meyers, professor and chair of internal medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

Medical director of the UC Davis Hospice Program for over two decades, Meyers pioneered the concept of simultaneous care, a model of care for cancer patients undergoing investigational therapy and has garnered national recognition for the UC Davis program.

Critical support

"The donation comes at a time when the importance of having support for hospice and end-of-life care is critical – both in providing care to our patients and being key participants in the national debate about the rights of patients to palliative care," Meyers says.

At any one time, the UC Davis program provides care to as many as 100 terminally ill patients who wish to remain at home.

Initially set up to serve patients who are terminally ill with AIDS and cancer, the program now includes patients with heart and liver disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative and life threatening illnesses. The program also serves children suffering from potentially terminal illnesses. In some cases, hospice provides unreimbursed care for patients who have few resources.

Donations to the program help underwrite costs of training faculty and staff in end-of-life care. Shaw's donation will support expansion of hospice services.

Shaw's "extraordinarily generous gift will allow us to provide the very best care to patients and also for us to develop our bioethicists, physicians and nurses at UC Davis to be a strong voice in the community," Meyers says. "These types of gifts do make a great difference in continuing to build on our strong tradition of care, and add tremendous value to what we do in the future. We're extremely grateful for Mr. Shaw's generosity."

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  YOU CAN HELP TOO! The UC Davis Hospice Program provides care for terminally ill patients who wish to remain at home. Hospice care emphasizes symptom management while helping patients and families cope with psychosocial and spiritual issues surrounding death. For more information about how you can support the UC Davis Hospice Program or how you can make a planned gift, contact the UC Davis Health System Health Sciences Advancement at (916) 734-9400, or visit the hospice Web site at www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/homecare/hospice.
 
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