Palo Alto resident Edith Nishimura spent decades working in healthcare as a nurse, public health administrator and clinical research manager. In every position, she sought to build processes that improved care for patients.
It comes naturally for me to give to PAMF in honor of my parents.
In the 1970s, Edith identified the need to create a comprehensive discharge planning process that began upon patient admission to the hospital. She designed and established protocol and trained all three shifts of physicians and staff at San Francisco Chinese Hospital.
Later in her career, Edith switched to clinical research, landing a position at ALZA Corp. (later acquired by Johnson & Johnson), where she managed the final phases of Food and Drug Administration approval for several drug therapies.
“Some people work in research their entire careers and never see that final phase of drug approval with the FDA,” Edith says. “I was lucky to work on several projects and steer five through final drug approval.”
What Edith chalks up to luck probably had a lot to do with her drive to solve bigger problems than the daily tasks in front of her. Throughout her career, she was never afraid to assume new challenges or take wider views of specific problems. For example, after receiving her nursing degree from San Jose State University and starting work at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, she was troubled when a child ready for discharge from the hospital was not picked up by his family immediately.
“I knew right then I needed to get a better understanding of what is happening inside patients’ homes to try to improve their overall care,”
Edith explains. “I moved back to Northern California and applied to be a nurse for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.” This move ultimately led Edith to pursue a graduate degree in public health from the University of California, San Francisco.
Deep Ties to PAMF
Edith likely acquired some of her passion for healthcare from her mother, Susanne, who worked at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation clinic on Homer Avenue for 28 years. Edith and her three siblings were PAMF patients as children, and she and her two brothers who remain in the Bay Area continue to receive care at PAMF.
She credits her current physicians for keeping her healthy into her 80s, including internist Christopher Kwong, M.D., infectious disease specialist John Boggs, M.D., and ophthalmologist Jocelyn Del Carmen, M.D. Thankful for her excellent care, Edith has donated regularly since 2010.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else for my healthcare—PAMF is excellent,” she says. “And when it comes to giving back, it comes naturally for me to give to PAMF in honor of my parents.”
It is gifts like Edith’s that, no matter how big or small, enable our organization to excel. “PAMF is blessed with hundreds of donors who have been giving for decades in gratitude for the care their families receive and reflecting their commitment to help raise the level of care for the entire community,” says Shannon Brady, PAMF executive director of philanthropy. “We cannot overstate the impact that donors like Edith make on our mission.”
Unfortunately, Edith spent much of 2020 battling osteomyelitis, a bone infection in her spine that made walking painful and difficult, but antibiotics and rehabilitation have her feeling much better these days.
She has returned to her passion for music, including playing her flute.
“Music keeps me busy; it is an important way to keep my mind working,” says Edith, who didn’t start playing flute until her mid-50s. “Sometimes I pick up the flute and realize I’ve been playing for three hours. Now I have to make sure my chores are done before I play!”
Once pandemic restrictions ease up and groups can safely meet in person again, Edith will rejoin TACO—the Terrible Adult Chamber
Orchestra—at the Los Altos Community Center, led by Musical
Director and Conductor Cathy Humphers Smith. Edith laughs just recalling the joy of playing with the orchestra once a month, nourishing herself through music and staying healthy.