Members of the Palliative Care team include:

  • Physician: A medical doctor who received advanced training and certification in assessing, diagnosis and treating pain and symptoms associated with serious illness. This physician coordinates with other specialists involved in your care.s
  • Nurse Practitioner: An advanced practice registered nurse overseen by the Palliative Care physician in assessing, diagnosing and treating serious illnesses. This provider also coordinates with other specialists involved in your care.
  • Social Services: A licensed clinical social worker who assists in assessing, diagnosis and treating the psychosocial/emotional needs of the patients and their families. This provider is also available for basic resource referrals to community services, in addition to, offering psychotherapy sessions in the clinic.
  • Pharmacist: A healthcare professional who is knowledgeable in medication usage and assists in reconciling medications to discontinue inappropriate medications, prevent unsafe medication reactions, reduce polypharmacy, provide education and geriatric consultation, minimize delays in therapy due to drug shortages, recommend alternative, cost-effective drugs and promote safe medication administration.
  • Dietitian: A healthcare professional who understands how to meet a patient’s nutritional needs and provide recommendations on optimizing dietary adjustments while coping with serious illness.
  • Chaplain: A spiritual counselor can be available upon request to offer additional support when coping with serious illness.

Meet Our Team

Ujjwala Dheeriya, MD - Physician

Sites: Hunt Cancer Center, Care Coordination Center

Board Certifications:

  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Internal Medicine
  • Internal Medicine with Focus on Hospital Medicine
  • Pediatrics

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Smith College
  • Doctor of Medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine
  • Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center, Tufts University

Interest in Palliative Care: I am dedicated to optimizing quality of life for my patients through building compassionate relationships with them and their family.

Hobbies: I raise service dogs and enjoy cooking, listening to audiobooks, attending concerts with my husband and spending time with my two teenage sons.


Ann Chae, MSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Sites: Hunt Cancer Center, Care Coordination Center

Specialization:

  • Oncology
  • Medical Social Work
  • Palliative and Hospice Social Work

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Asian American Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Master of Social Work, University of Southern California

Interest in Palliative Care: I became interested in Palliative Care because I have experienced firsthand the struggle of a family member suffering from a serious illness. Palliative care was never offered to us and we had to navigate next steps alone. It was a very difficult process and I wish we had experts helping us with next steps and educating us with the disease process. The second reason I have an interest in Palliative Care is that I have always found it rewarding to be able to help patients with serious illnesses develop goals of care and lead these difficult conversations. I see Palliative Care as a road map for someone with a serious illness. This roadmap would provide family with tools, support and education to increase quality of life and decrease stress on the family.

Hobbies: Traveling, cooking and spending time with my family.

Other Languages Spoken: Korean


Christina Hanisch, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, NP-C - Nurse Practitioner

Sites: Home-Based

Specialization/Certifications:

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • Board Certified in Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing, University of Irvine
  • Master of Science in Nursing, Northern Arizona University

Interest in Palliative Care: Provide alternate treatment, support and care for chronically ill patients who wish to focus more on quality of life.

Hobbies: Volunteering at the animal shelter, running half-marathons, watching Disney movies, trying new restaurants/foods, spending time with family and loved ones.

Other Languages Spoken: American Sign Language


Mary Hersh, PhD, RN, FPCN, CHPN - Coordinator, Inpatient Palliative Care

Sites: Inpatient

Specialization:

  • Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing
  • Fellow of Palliative Care Nursing

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing, California State University, Northridge
  • Master of Science in Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles

Interest in Palliative Care: I am interested in many facets related to Palliative Care. For example, in my clinical role, I love being with patients and families and always try to improve some aspect of their illness experiences. In my teaching role, I enjoy sharing my knowledge with staff and especially enjoy developing professional growth in other nurses interested in this specialty. Lastly, I have enjoyed conducting nursing research focused on nursing presence, empathy and therapeutic communication.

Hobbies: Gardening, writing, being with my family


Danielle Cosgrove, RN, CHPN - Registered Nurse

Sites: Inpatient

Specialization/Certifications:

  • Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse

Interest in Palliative Care: I chose to work in Palliative Care because it is an honor to provide guidance, comfort and support to patients and their families dealing with serious illness.

Hobbies: I enjoy gardening, baking and exercise.


Rebecca Rodgers, MSN, RN, PCCN - Registered Nurse

Sites: Inpatient

Specialization/Certifications:

  • Progressive Care Certified Nurse

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Master of Science in Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Post Masters for Family Nurse Practitioner, California State University, Long Beach

Interest in Palliative Care: Often times, illness can lead to a sense of vulnerability and powerlessness. Through Palliative Care, we can help patients regain some semblance of control and empowerment through addressing their goals of care and what is important to them. It is a privilege to be part of a team that accompanies our patients on their journeys, one step at a time, providing information, empathy and support.

Hobbies: One of the many things I have learned through working in Palliative Care is to cherish every moment we have. Some of my hobbies include pool and open water swimming, hiking, baking and spending quality time with my family.

Other Languages Spoken: American Sign Language


Trevor Vandercapellen, RN, BSN, CAPC - Lead Registered Nurse

Sites: Home-Based

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Mount Saint Mary's University

Interest in Palliative Care: I believe in quality of life for all. Life is full of choices, and I want to help people make the best choice for themselves so each person can live their best life.

Hobbies: My two biggest hobbies are music and soccer. I play guitar and was raised in a family where music was a constant in our lives. I am also a diehard LAFC supporter and club member.

Other Languages Spoken: Spanish


Stella Okoro, RN

Sites: Home-Based

Education:

  • University of Nigeria, School of Nursing

Interest in Palliative Care: To provide comfort to patients struggling with serious diseases.

Hobbies: Traveling, taking pictures, having quality time with my family and friends, loves children.

Other Languages Spoken: Igbo


Stephanie Rojas, MSW, LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Sites: Home-Based

Education:

  • California State University, Long Beach
  • Master of Social Work, San Diego State University

Interest in Palliative Care: I've worked in Home Health for Torrance Memorial for 6 years now, prior to this I worked in hospice, and palliative brings the best of both programs together: symptom management, emphasis on quality of life, honoring patient's wishes for their medical care, strong support for patients and caregivers from a core team, and patients are able to continue to see all of their medical providers.

Hobbies: Trying new foods, traveling.

Other Languages Spoken: Spanish


Vivian Lee, LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Sites: Home-Based

Specialization:

  • Certified Employee Assistance Professional

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Master of Social Work, University of Southern California

Interest in Palliative Care: My intention is to provide assistance, support and education for individuals and their families who are coping with long term illness.

Hobbies: Enjoying family time, trying new recipes, sewing clothes for my little nephew!

Other Languages Spoken: Spanish


Kelie Tabangay, LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Sites: Home-Based

Specialization:

  • Certified Grief Recovery Specialist

Education:

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Master of Social Work, University of Michigan

Interest in Palliative Care: I want to help patients and families relieve some stress as they cope with a serious illness by helping them navigate through the available community resources and providing them with emotional support.

Hobbies: Indoor cycling and binge-watching Friends.

Other Languages Spoken: Conversational Mandarin


Reverend Jan Lee - Chaplain and Spiritual Care Provider

Sites: Inpatient

Specialization:

  • Ordained minister from the American Baptist Churches of the USA (ABCUSA)
  • Provisional certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary

Interest in Palliative Care: I belong to and practice the Christian faith, but love and serve people of all backgrounds, faiths and traditions. My interest with Palliative Care stems out of my background working as a hospice chaplain and realizing how little I know or understand about this area of patient care. I’m eager and curious to learn from and collaborate with the team here at Torrance Memorial.

Hobbies: My hobbies include learning to sing and play songs on my ukulele, watching my son’s basketball games, and reading old books I never finished.

Other Languages Spoken: Conversational Spanish