Introducing our new Institute for Human Caring

With the demands on health care today, we could easily lose sight of what Providence is really about and fall into the trap of seeing patients as just a medical diagnosis or a number. But what I love about Providence is that our Mission keeps us grounded and reminds us that each patient we serve is a whole person with aspirations and fears; and emotional, spiritual and physical needs.

We’ve been practicing the concept of whole person care since Mother Joseph came out West 158 years ago. Today, we believe it’s more relevant than ever and that it can ease the way of patients, families and communities as they face illness, caregiving, dying and grief.


That’s why we’re developing our new Institute for Human Caring, and why we’ve hired Ira Byock, M.D., the nation’s foremost expert in palliative care, to lead the effort. Ira is so passionate about our Mission it’s hard to believe he’s only been with us since June. I’m excited for you to meet him – and learn about the institute – in my latest video interview. I think you’ll find his enthusiasm contagious.

What love has do with it

Ira has an impressive CV. He developed leading palliative care programs working with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and most recently Dartmouth. He is a go-to expert for the news media on end-of-life issues and has written three seminal books on the topic: The Four Things that Matter Most, The Best Care Possible and Dying Well.

But what I appreciate most about him is that he is genuinely committed to tackling one of health care’s toughest issues: improving care in the last two years of life, which are often the hardest for patients and families and the most costly for the nation.

This is one social crisis we can solve simply by giving the best care possible to every human being and by doing so with the best of medical technology but also with tenderness, honesty and love. I don’t know of another health system that has love as one of its core values. That’s remarkable. That’s why I’m here. I’m in the right place. -Ira Byock, M.D.

While Ira is based in Southern California with the team at Providence Trinity Care, he  will serve as a system resource. I know he’s looking forward to working with the outstanding palliative care teams we have across our system, as well as with our specialists and caregivers.

Positive buzz in Times Square


The announcement about Ira Byock joining Providence got some positive buzz across the country. The story even ran on one of the news tickers in New York’s Times Square.

Orange is the New Black: Changing Hollywood’s portrayal of dying

Ira is a go-to expert for the news media and also has been speaking with the screenwriter’s guild and motion picture association in Los Angeles to help change Hollywood’s portrayal of end-of-life care. He was recently interviewed by The Daily Beast about his take on a death scene from the TV show Orange is the New Black.

Other headlines

Renowned palliative care expert joins Providence Health & Services – July 17,2014

Don’t call it a death panel: Providence wants to change the conversation on end of life care – Aug. 7, 2014

  1. Rod, Several of us have noticed the plaque that appears in your interviews. It looks like Japanese characters. Can you translate it for us?

    • Great question. It’s from China and it literally translates as “with all hearts and souls working together, Mount Tai can be moved.” It’s a beautiful expression. Thanks for asking.

  2. Rod, this is my favorite video to date. Very interesting. You and Ira really spoke to something our caregivers take as a sacred duty — helping people die well and making sure their families are engaged in the process. I’ve been reading one of Ira’s books, and I agree, his approach is a great fit with our values.

    Will you do an interview with Patrick Soon-Shiong sometime soon? I’d love to hear more about brining genome-specific care to all our cancer patients.

    • Hi, Chris – Definitely. We plan to get Patrick on video soon. He has a great personal story that’s very inspiring as well.

  3. This is a really important message – whole person care and also honoring individuals as they come to the end of life. We are all sisters and brothers in the human experience and the Providence way of coming alongside those who are ill with tender compassion and deep respect is something to be proud of. I am really looking forward to hearing more about the new Institute for Human Caring.