The SDCCC strives to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans by promoting timely advance care planning and understanding of medical treatment options for chronic and serious illness, including palliative care, across the life span.


All people in San Diego County will have the opportunity to discuss their health care priorities with their loved ones, friends and healthcare providers, complete advance care planning documents, and feel empowered to make informed decisions so that they can receive the medically appropriate treatment they want to receive--and avoid medical treatment they do not want -- in alignment with their goals of care. 


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  • Improving quality of life across the spectrum of health and illness.

  • Honest and genuine conversations about individuals’ personal goals of care.

  • Normalizing conversations about palliative care and end-of-life issues throughout the lifespan.

  • Improving access to palliative care for everyone with serious or chronic illness who wants it, including those receiving curative care.

  • Promoting open discussion of serious illness, medical interventions, and end-of-life care.

  • Respect for every person’s autonomy and right to receive care and reasonable medical treatment in the way they want to receive it.

  • Recognizing and respecting diversity and cultural context in making health care and end-of-life care decisions.

  • Informed, shared decision-making.

  • Supporting current and future healthcare professionals so that they can develop the expertise, resources, tools, and time to discuss these difficult topics.

our story

The San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care originated as the San Diego POLST Coalition in 2009, thanks to support from the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC) and the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF).  The organization was created with grant funding from CHCF to assist in education and dissemination of the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) after the POLST legislation (AB 3000) was passed in our state.   Initially directed primarily at health care providers, our efforts were to promote best practices around advance care planning, and advance directives and POLST completion.  In 2016, our leaders decided to broaden our scope to efforts in educating the public at large in addition to the health care community, a new independent 501(c)(3) corporation was created, and our name was changed to reflect our broader aims and our affiliation with the CCCC.  The SDCCC is now a self-sustaining grass-roots organization that collaborates with many other local and statewide stakeholders in the advance care planning and palliative care space. 

Karl Steinberg, MD (left) with first Executive Director of CSUSM Institute of Palliative Care (Helen McNeal - center) and Sharon Hamill, PHD Faculty Director of Institute of Palliative Care at CSUSM (right).

Karl Steinberg, MD (left) with first Executive Director of CSUSM Institute of Palliative Care (Helen McNeal - center) and Sharon Hamill, PHD Faculty Director of Institute of Palliative Care at CSUSM (right).


Committee & Board

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Michelle Goldbach, DNP, MHA, RN, CHPN - Chair of SDCCC

Michelle is the Clinical Manager Palliative Care & Pediatric Hospice Programs at the Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego. California.  For over 30 years she has been an international public speaker, educator, mentor and leader in the Healthcare. In addition to the San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, Dr Goldbach is very involved in nursing and other professional organizations to promote access to care as well as increase awareness of hospice and palliative care to those working in healthcare.   


Michael McDuffie, PhD - Chair-Elect and Education Co-Chair

Michael McDuffie is Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at California State University San Marcos.  He specializes in bioethics and clinical ethics, and he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the CSUSM School of Nursing and the CSU Institute for Palliative Care.   

McDuffie serves as a Community Member of the Hospital Ethics Committees at Palomar Health, Escondido CA, and at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.  At Palomar Health, he is a member of the Clinical Ethics Consulting Team, and a past member of the Investigational Review Committee (IRB).  McDuffie serves as the At-Large Patient Representative on the Critical Care Medicine Subspecialty Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and is active in the San Diego County Medical Society Bioethics Commission.  


Alicia Muñoz, FACHE, CPHQ, CPPS - Past Chair 2018

Ms. Muñoz joined the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties in May 2012 and joined the Hospital Quality Institute when founded in April 2013.   

She has been active with San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care since 2017. 

Ms. Muñoz completed her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from California State University and her Masters of Advanced Studies in the Leadership of Healthcare Organizations from UCSD. She is board certified in Healthcare Management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and board certified as both a Professional in Healthcare Quality and as a Professional in Patient Safety. She has worked in healthcare management for over 30 years and is currently Vice President, Quality Regional Network for Hospital Quality Institute.


Glenn Panzer, MD, CMD, FAAFP - Treasurer, Founding Member and Education Co-Chair

Dr Panzer is a Board certified Family Physician with added qualifications in Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Family Practice. He is Chief Medical Officer Emeritus of The Elizabeth Hospice.  He has been affiliated with The Elizabeth Hospice for 14  years.  He was Chief Medical Officer from 2007 to 2017.  Dr Panzer prides himself as being a Certified Medical Director through AMDA (the Society for Post Acute and Long Term Care Medicine).  

He is treasurer of San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care and on the executive committee.  He is also past president of the San Diego Dementia Consortium.  He was chair of the Medical staff Ethics and Palliative Care committees at Palomar Health from 2007 to 2017. 

He is a graduate of the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa.  He completed his residency in Family Medicine at The Wyoming Valley Family Practice Residency Program in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania where he practiced for > 20 years.  Dr. Panzer moved to San Diego with his wife Lori in 2003. 

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Matthew Parcasio - Secretary

Matthew Parcasio has a Masters of Arts in Gerontology. He gained his knowledge of caring for older adults and adults with disabilities through his professional experience in Adult Day Healthcare, Assisted Living Memory Care, and Non-Medical Home Care settings. He is an Outreach and Education staff member at the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Aging & Independence Services. Matthew is a member of the North County Community Action Network and the Live Well San Diego North County Community Leadership Team. Matthew is passionate about educating the community. He provides presentations, which include topics such as the overview of Aging & Independence Services programs, Advance Health Care Directive: Respected Decisions, Alzheimer’s Disease and other Related Dementias, Mandated Reporting of Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Training, “Don’t Get Hooked” Preventing Financial Abuse, Scams, and Fraud, and Good Mental Health is Ageless.  Matthew is committed to advancing the Live Well San Diego vision of a region that is building better health, living safely and thriving. 

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Jatana Williams - Speakers Bureau Chair

Jatana A. Williams, founder of Beyond the Sky Solutions LLC., has 25 plus years of health care professional experience involving administration, sales leadership, business development, education and community relations. She has a B.S. in business administration and is a certified residential care for the elderly (RCFE) administrator. Jatana is a train the trainer for end of life nursing education Consortium-Veterans Administration (ELNEC-VA) and physician orders for life sustaining treatment (POLST). She is currently pursuing certifications in business and dementia care consulting. She currently volunteers on the steering committee(s) for the Caregiver Coalition of San Diego, San Diego Compassionate Care Coalition and the RCFE Disaster Preparedness Taskforce. Williams is known in the senior care community through presenting at healthcare seminars, forums and conferences. She has won several awards in customer service, communications and creative works. Williams believes in supporting those who support the elderly. “Treat every senior the way you want to be treated once you get the honor of being one.”


Jennifer Ballentine, MA - Past Chair 2017

Leading the CSU Institute for Palliative Care is Executive Director Jennifer Moore Ballentine, drawing on her deep experience and accomplishments in palliative care education and advocacy to help expand and advance the reach of palliative care on a global scale.

Jennifer developed a passion for palliative and end-of-life care after a long career as an academic and professional book producer on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to healthcare/health science to theology.

Inspired by her work as a patient-care volunteer for Porter Hospice in Denver, she earned a Master’s degree in End-of-Life Studies from Regis University, and joined the Colorado Center for Hospice and Palliative Care as Director of Programs.

She later became Executive Director of the Life Quality Institute, a professional learning organization focused on embedding palliative care content into medical, nursing, and allied health curricula and providing comprehensive skills-based education to working clinicians. At LQI she contributed to the creation and delivery of more than 700 innovative, evidence-based programs across a variety of learning platforms to reach more than 20,000 participants.

Her advocacy and leadership made a lasting impact across the state. From 2010 to 2017, Jennifer chaired the Colorado Advance Directives Consortium, which reviewed and overhauled the state’s advance directive statutes and established the Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (POLST paradigm) program via legislative act.

Relocating to California in 2015, Jennifer provided professional consulting services to clients such as Hospice Analytics, the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, and the Institute for Human Caring, founded by palliative care champion Dr. Ira Byock. During that time she also served as guest faculty and a course author for the CSU Institute for Palliative Care.

Jennifer became Executive Director of the Institute in September 2017, following a months-long national search that began when founding Executive Director Helen McNeal announced her planned retirement.

Over the past 17 years Jennifer has published a dozen articles on palliative and end-of-life care in peer-reviewed journals and trade journals; delivered more than 200 workshops, Grand Rounds, webinars, and in-services; developed, planned and executed 14 local, state, and national conferences; and created 5 comprehensive multi-part educational programs.

She has also served as an active member, and on committees or the Board of Directors, for a number of state and national organizations including the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Colorado Healthcare Ethics Forum, the National POLST Advisory Taskforce, and the Center for Improving Value in Health Care.

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John Tastad - Founding Member and Past Chair 2016

John Tastad is the coordinator for the Advance Care Planning program at Sharp HealthCare, and the coordinator for Spiritual Support Services at Sharp HospiceCare. His academic training includes undergraduate studies at Northwest Christian University and the University of Oregon, and graduate studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of San Diego. Now in his 17th year at Sharp, John teaches Bioethics for new employee and volunteer training at Sharp HospiceCare, and he serves on the Bioethics Committees at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.  John is past-chair of the San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care, and he has spoken at events sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Center to Advance Palliative Care, California Hospice and Palliative Care Association and many additional organizations.

Karl Steinberg

Karl Steinberg, MD, CMD, HMDC - Founding Member

Karl is a family physician, long-term care geriatrician, and hospice & palliative medicine specialist who is past chair of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California and president-elect of the California Association of Long-Term Care Medicine.  He serves on the National POLST Program's Leadership Council and the National Quality Forum's Geriatrics and Palliative Care Standing Committee, and has been a nursing home and hospice medical director in North San Diego County since 1995. 


Christine Knutson RN, PHN, MSN - Founding Member and Past Chair 2015

Christine has been a registered nurse for over forty years and continues with her passion for Palliative Care. She completed the POLST (Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) educational program, as a Train the Trainer, soon after its inception in 2009. Chris was involved with our local POLST Coalition and was one of the founding members for our San Diego Coalition for Compassionate (SDCCC). She is an active member of our California Coalition for Compassionate Care (CCCC) and organized a POLST QAPI program in 2016 to address quality improvement in our skilled and long-term care communities, supported by the California Coalition community outreach grant programs.   

Chris has several decades of experience in home health care, hospice, long term care, as well as, community education and outreach. She was involved with our San Diego Regional Homecare Council, as well as, one of the founding members of our San Diego Coalition for Improving End of Life Care. Chris holds a certificate as an ELNEC Trainer for Veterans and a certificate in Ethics and Mediation.

Congratulations to Christine for recently being awarded the Doris A. Howell, MD, Award for Advancing Palliative Care.


Sharon Hamill, PhD - Founding Member

Sharon received her BA from California State University, Long Beach; she received her MA and PhD in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.  She is a Psychology and Child/Adolescent Development Professor and the Faculty Director for the CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM.  Her research focuses on (1) adolescent and young adult caregivers in families with grandparents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other diseases and (2) how palliative care can alleviate suffering and promote higher quality of life for patients and their families.  Dr. Hamill was named the recipient of the 2015-2016 Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award at CSUSM for excellence in teaching, research, and service.  

Dr. Hamill’s current work focuses on resiliency training for young caregivers and young people who are bereaved, and making health care education for young people mainstream in palliative care. Dr. Hamill was a founding member of the San Diego Coalition for Compassionate Care and served as its first secretary.  She continues to work collaboratively with the SDCCC as a member of the Education Committee and by partnering with the SDCCC to host the annual San Diego Professional Palliiative Care Conference.