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From a Gift of Time to a Gift of a Lifetime

Nancy Katayama’s mother, Hana, had emphysema and had been in a Los Angeles hospital for many months. She was on a ventilator, and Nancy was not happy with the level of care she was getting. But she had no idea where else to go that would be any better.

Nancy had never heard of Barlow Respiratory Hospital, but she was open to anything when Hana’s doctor eventually suggested it. Like many people who find themselves faced with healthcare decisions for family members, Nancy was apprehensive about transferring her ailing mother to an unfamiliar place. Nancy smiles as she recalls that although the doctor told her the care would be good, he also told her, “you won’t like it there.”

Nancy was shocked by what she found – ironically, not for the reasons the doctor thought. “It turned out to be the best place for her! In terms of the equipment and ventilator care, Barlow was head and shoulders above the rest.”

Nancy, Hana, Shig and Tracy Katayama
Nancy, Hana, Shig and Tracy Katayama

Nancy spent a lot of time at Barlow over the ensuing months, and was struck by the attentiveness of the medical staff. “I had to clean equipment myself at the other hospital,” Nancy says, “but not at Barlow.” Everything was always clean and functional, and Nancy felt comfortable knowing her mother was in good hands when she wasn’t there.

Hana passed away in 2000, but her experience at Barlow made a lasting impression on Nancy. “I was very happy with the care she received, so I sent a little note to the hospital,” she remembers. The Barlow Foundation contacted Nancy and asked if she would be willing to tell her story for a video they were producing about Barlow.

Soon thereafter, Nancy was recruited onto the Barlow Foundation Board of Directors. More than a decade later, Nancy is still serving on the board, currently as Secretary. “I’ve been involved with the Foundation for a long time, and it has been the quality of care that has kept me here.”

But for Nancy, volunteering on the board wasn’t enough to express the level of appreciation she felt for how her mother was cared for at Barlow. During her board tenure, Nancy made the decision to name Barlow as a beneficiary in her estate plan. “It’s a gift I have made in gratitude for the care my mother received,” she says. Nancy hopes her future gift will help ensure that Barlow, “is here for future generations to get the same kind of care my mother got – possibly even better!”