Institute Honors LightBridge Hospice Founder Jill Mendlen

A longtime nurse, hospice innovator, and nationally recognized leader in improving care for people with serious illness has been named the 2019 recipient of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care’s Doris A. Howell, MD, Award for Advancing Palliative Care.

Jill Mendlen, RN, will be presented with the award on Jan. 8, 2020, during a ceremony on the campus of California State University San Marcos.  Mendlen is the founder and CEO of LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care and vice president of LightBridge Medical Associates.

Under Mendlen’s leadership, LightBridge was among the first organizations in California to add palliative care to their hospice licensure and, in 2019, was one of the first to earn The Joint Commission’s new Community-Based Palliative Care Certification. LightBridge also pioneered the palliative care/managed care space with HealthNet in 2016 after being awarded a California Health Care Foundation Payor-Provider Partnerships Grant.

“Recognizing pioneers and advocates in palliative care is our very great pleasure,” said Jennifer Moore Ballentine, executive director of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care. “Jill represents the best in our field: a passionate caregiver, inspiring leader, and programmatic innovator. We’re thrilled to honor her and her team with this award.”

Among her many roles, Mendlen is a member of the California Advanced Illness Collaborative (CAIC), sponsored by the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California and California Health Care Foundation. She also serves on the board of directors for Alzheimer’s San Diego.

“Although hers is a remarkable resume, what sets Jill apart is who she is,” said Pamela Hough, senior vice president and administrator for LightBridge Hospice Community Foundation, and one of several people who nominated Mendlen for the Howell award.

“At her core, (Jill) is a caring and compassionate nurse who cares deeply about the patients and families we serve and is a gifted and intelligent businesswoman who is passionate about excellence, commitment, and dedication,” Hough said.

Dr. Howell was a legendary physician in pediatric hematology, oncology and community medicine who pioneered the hospice movement in San Diego, creating a groundbreaking model recognized across the country.

A generous donation in Dr. Howell’s honor by philanthropist Darlene Marcos Shiley accompanies the Institute’s annual award and is bestowed on a local healthcare organization with ties to the selected recipient.

The 2018 Howell Award winner was Christine B. Knutson, RN, MSN, a longtime nurse, educator, and palliative care advocate in San Diego County, and a founding member and past chair of the San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care.

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.