Tomorrow will be better.
That thought carried Madelyn "Maddie" Katz through her final days before her untimely death from pancreatic cancer in 2009. It may well be the philosophy that motivated Maddie and her husband, Ronald Katz, longtime benefactors to UCLA, to name the waiting room for families whose loved ones are having surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center "Maddie's Room" and to found Operation Mend, a partnership between UCLA and the U.S. Army to provide reconstructive plastic surgery to military personnel wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This generosity continued after Maddie's passing, when Ron Katz established the Maddie Katz Chair in Palliative Care Research and Education. On Dec. 1, the first Katz Chair holder was announced: Dr. Thomas Strouse, medical director of the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA and vice chair for clinical affairs in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.
Palliative care is an area of medicine that aims to improve quality of life for patients and their families who are facing problems associated with life-threatening illnesses. It strives to do so by assessing and treating a patient's physical pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual issues.
"Establishing this chair is important to me because it recognizes not just the need to take care of the patient's pain, but the pain of the family as well," Katz said.
"Maddie and I first met Tom (Strouse) almost 40 years ago, when he was a member of the local YMCA and I was a member of the Y's board. When Tom, a palliative care specialist, heard about my wife's illness, he came to me and said, 'I'm going to take care of Maddie.' He kept her comfortable, and there was not a day or night that he didn't come by to see her.
"UCLA will benefit from Dr. Strouse's appointment, and most important of all, patients and their families will benefit and find comfort and contentment," Katz said.
Strouse is recognized as a national leader in palliative care. He has worked with medically ill adults throughout his career and for the last 15 years has focused clinically on psychosocial oncology and cancer pain and symptom management. He has published extensively in this area and has worked at a national level, teaching health professionals about psychosocial oncology and palliative care.
Strouse, who has maintained a faculty appointment at UCLA since completing his residency training here in 1991, previously served as director of cancer pain management and psychosocial services at the outpatient cancer center at Cedars–Sinai Medical Center. Prior to Cedars, he was director of the UCLA consultation/liaison psychiatry service and worked closely with the UCLA Liver Transplant Program for more than a decade.
Strouse has spent his career caring for adults coping with the psychiatric and physical aspects of catastrophic illness. As a dedicated clinician-teacher, he has been widely recognized for his contributions. In 2003, he received the Robert T. Angarola Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative to an individual most allied with improving quality of life for people with cancer in a given year. He also has been recognized by psychiatry residents with a Top Course Director award and is repeatedly named in Castle Connolly's "America's Top Doctors" listings.
In addition, Strouse is a fellow of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine and an American Psychiatric Association distinguished fellow. He is board-certified in both general psychiatry and the sub-specialty areas of pain medicine, psychosomatic medicine, and hospice and palliative medicine. He is a member of the test committee that writes the board-certifying exams for hospice and palliative care. Strouse completed the UCLA physician acupuncture training program and actively practices acupuncture.
He has published many peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and sits on the editorial boards of a number of important journals. Most recently, he accepted a position as associate editor of the Journal of Supportive Oncology. He lectures throughout the country on topics related to pain, organ transplantation and the psychiatric aspects of illness. He was educated at Pomona College and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
"I was drawn to the practice of psychiatry and palliative care because it is, first and foremost, organized around the needs of the patient," Strouse said. "In palliative care, we strive to manage a patient's pain and symptoms in the most effective and efficient way possible. The goal is to prevent unnecessary hospital stays or trips to the emergency room.
"Inspiration comes to me from my patients and my family. I am grateful that Ron and Maddie allowed me to care for her in the most intimate moments of her passing.
"The Katz family has long shared a philanthropic vision. The tragedy of Maddie's passing will now translate into new knowledge, better education for our physicians and other health care providers, and improved care for our patients with catastrophic illness."
Endowed chairs and professorships continue to play an increasingly crucial role in the recruitment and retention of outstanding university faculty. Reserved for the most distinguished scholars and teachers, including the best junior faculty, endowed chairs provide vital funds for the support of the chair holder's research, teaching and clinical activities. Donors continue to provide thoughtful and generous support for endowed chairs with the knowledge that their gifts supply a solid foundation for the enrichment of university programs and the recognition of academic excellence.
The UCLA Health System
has for more than half a century provided the best in health care and the latest in medical technology to the people of Los Angeles and the world. Comprising Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and the UCLA Medical Group, with its wide-reaching system of primary care and specialty care offices throughout the region, the UCLA Health System is among the most comprehensive and advanced health care systems in the world. For information about clinical programs or help in choosing a personal physician, call 800-UCLA-MD1 or visit www.uclahealth.org.