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Scripps Clinical Director Wins Award for Advancing Palliative Care

A clinical director of palliative medicine and leader in the growth of palliative care in San Diego has been named the 2023 recipient of the Doris A. Howell Award for Advancing Palliative Care, presented annually by the CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care.

MaryCarol Reeder, the palliative care integrations director for Scripps Health in La Jolla, is this year’s Howell honoree, the Cal State San Marcos-based institute announced. Starting as an emergency room nurse at Scripps Encinitas, Reeder worked her way up through various leadership positions and now drives the growth of outpatient palliative care in the Scripps health care system.

A $25,000 gift in Howell’s honor from philanthropist Darlene Marcos Shiley accompanies the annual award and is bestowed on a local health care organization with ties to the selected recipient. This year’s beneficiary organization is the Pathways Program at Hospice of the North Coast. Pathways is a grant-funded palliative home-based service that provides personalized care.

Recognizing the need to extend palliative care beyond inpatient settings, Reeder pioneered the establishment of the first oncology-embedded palliative care clinic for Scripps at the downtown campus. The success of this clinic led to the expansion of the outpatient team and the opening of two additional clinics at Torrey Pines and Encinitas.

Reeder’s advocacy extends to the public arena, where she regularly engages in public talks to raise awareness about palliative care. Her community engagement and communication prowess have been fundamental in fostering a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of palliative care.

Reeder was nominated for the award by Kathryn Hughlock, a palliative care nurse practitioner for Scripps Health, and Youngho Paul Kim, M.D., director of palliative care at Scripps Green Hospital.

“Over the past several years, I have witnessed MaryCarol Reeder’s unwavering dedication as she has revolutionized palliative care at Scripps Health, becoming a steadfast presence through numerous leadership changes,” Hughlock said. “Her remarkable contributions have profoundly enhanced the quality of palliative care, expanded its accessibility and increased awareness of its invaluable benefits in the community she calls home, San Diego County.”

“I have witnessed countless times where she has gently pushed and educated various physicians, business administrators, families and patients on how palliative care can support patients and their family members to continue living and living well with their life-limiting disease,” Kim said. “I could not think of anyone else who has played such a vital and important role in the growth of palliative care in San Diego and specifically within Scripps more than MaryCarol Reeder.”

Reeder will receive the award at a reception on April 16 from 5-7 p.m. at the McMahan House on CSUSM’s campus.

The Howell award is named after the late Dr. Doris Howell, a legendary physician and pioneer in pediatric hematology, oncology and community medicine who in 1977 founded San Diego Hospice and the Institute for Palliative Medicine (SDHIPM).