Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center started an ALS clinic in 2011 with Barbara Myers as the case manager. Our goal was to not just treat the disease but to treat the patient. This was done by taking a holistic approach and understanding the multiple facets of life that are affected by ALS. ALS is defined as a physical disease causing progressive painless weakness with no cure, with the majority of patients passing away within 3-5 years of their diagnosis. We’ve lost around 100 patients since our clinic was started just 7 years ago. We believe that this horrendous disease is not just a physical disease, but an emotional, psychological and spiritual disease as well. We realize that there is a difference between curing and healing; although you cannot cure ALS, you can heal the patient. Our belief is “the key to patient care is to care about the patient” as well as the concept that “love is medicine” which Barbara Myers exemplifies. Barbara is very modest, and I know this is embarrassing her greatly but I’m about to embarrass her even more.
Barbara defines the term “empathetic soul”. She goes above and beyond for every patient every time. She’s the type of person to spend an hour talking to a patient to aid with their anxiety, the type of person who will complete all the disability forms for patients who are unable to write, the type of person who on her off time, may stop by a patient’s house just to make sure they are okay. She doesn’t accept care for her patients that she wouldn’t accept for her own family.
Our clinic has won many awards and accolades such as the “every day hero award” given by KP in 2013, we were a finalist for the “Health care leadership award” from the Los Angeles business journey in 2014, we won the commitment to care award given by the ALS association in 2016, and were asked to participate in the “ask the expert” conference at USC last year which Barbara was one of the kick off speakers for that event. As the medical director, I’ve received a lot of praise for the work we have done, but I’m here today to give credit where credit is due. We would not be the award-winning clinic we are if not for Barbara’s blood sweat and tears… and in our line of work, there are a lot of tears.
I jokingly say I may be the brains of the clinic, meaning I come up with ideas, but Barbara is the heart and the soul of the clinic as she brings these ideas to reality. I am very honored and privileged to call Barbara a colleague and a friend and am thrilled to be here today to honor all her hard work over the years. Thank you, Barbara, for all you do to make our clinic one of the best ALS clinics in Los Angeles, in California and quite possibly the nation as I honestly, in my heart, know none of this would have been possible without you.