Dec. 21, 2018 (SAN DIEGO) – A longtime nurse, educator, and advocate who has devoted her career to expanding access to hospice and palliative care for patients and families in San Diego County has been named the 2018 recipient of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care’s Doris A. Howell, MD, Award for Advancing Palliative Care.
Christine B. Knutson, RN, MSN, will be presented with the annual award on Jan. 10 during a ceremony at the Institute’s headquarters at California State University San Marcos. The invitation-only event will also pay tribute to the remarkable life and legacy of Dr. Howell, who died Nov. 23, at the age of 94–just shy of her 95th birthday.
Dr. Howell was a legendary physician in pediatric hematology, oncology and community medicine who pioneered the hospice movement in San Diego, creating an innovative model recognized across the country. In a 2013 article, the then-president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization called Dr. Howell “an icon in our field.”
Knutson, a registered nurse for more than 40 years, is the past chair of the San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care and a founding member of the End of Life Coalition in San Diego and the San Diego POLST Coalition. She has made an enormous impact on patients, families, and healthcare professionals in the region, both clinically and as an educator, according to Karl Steinberg, MD, CMD, HMDC, one of four palliative care professionals who separately nominated Knutson for the award.
“Chris’s contributions to palliative care and advance care planning in this region are truly immeasurable—and almost all of them at the grassroots, community, and classroom level,” said Jennifer Moore Ballentine, Executive Director of the Institute. “She is a walking monument to the idea that one person can change the world.”
A generous donation in Dr. Howell’s honor by philanthropist Darlene Marcos Shiley accompanies the annual award and is bestowed on a local healthcare organization with ties to the selected recipient.
Last year two palliative care pioneers tied for the award: Gary Buckholz, MD, FAAHPM, a nationally recognized physician/educator and Clinical Professor at UC San Diego, and Kimberly Bower, MD, Chief of Palliative Medicine at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Both paid tribute to Dr. Howell when they accepted their awards.
“When I think about people who have inspired me, moved me and lifted me up when things get difficult, Doris Howell is one of the first people who come to mind,” Dr. Bower said. “Her loving presence and her ability to say ‘you can do this’ has meant the world to me. Recognizing that she is a woman who went through medical school when there weren’t many women in medical school; that she practiced oncology at a time when many, many children with cancer died, and that she sat with those families… I’ve always thought, ‘If Doris could do it, I can do it; if she could persevere, then I can persevere.’”
About the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care
The CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care leverages the strength of the CSU system to expand access to and awareness of palliative care by educating current and future health care professionals. The Institute is charged with positively impacting the critical shortage of nurses, physicians, social workers, and spiritual care providers trained in palliative care, using a groundbreaking educational model that emphasizes a whole-person, patient-centered approach aimed at improving quality of life for people with serious or life-limiting illness.