Video by the California Medical Association

From St. Joseph Health:

Renowned breast cancer researcher and St. Joseph Health Cancer Care Program medical director, Ellen Mahoney M.D., was honored this past weekend with the California Medical Association’s (CMA) most prestigious award, the Frederick K.M. Plessner Memorial Award. The award, which honors the California physician who best exemplifies the ethics and practice of a rural country practitioner, was announced Saturday, October 21st, at CMA’s annual House of Delegates meeting in Anaheim.

The first of her family to graduate from college, Dr. Mahoney graduated from Stanford Medical School as one of the first woman general surgeons. After completing her residency—also at Stanford—she became the first woman ever to open a private surgical practice in Palo Alto.

In 2000, Dr. Mahoney “retired” to Humboldt County. When she saw the acute cancer care issues in this remote part of California, she had a vision for comprehensive cancer care for residents of Humboldt so that they could get the same quality of care locally that they would get in Palo Alto.

“A few years ago, colleagues and I developed a new rural cancer care delivery model so that our patients with complex cancer would receive a standard of coordinated care equal to that of a comprehensive cancer center in any urban area,” said Mahoney. “With big dreams, limited resources, and terrific local support, we became very creative in using community resources to help fill our patients’ needs.”

As medical director of the Cancer Care Program at St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County, Dr. Mahoney continues her commitment to providing care to patients with breast cancer and developing collaborative teams to care for our community, including a partnership with the Stanford Cancer Institute. That relationship helped create a joint videoconference tumor board. Under her leadership, the joint weekly tumor board has become a vibrant, standing-room only demonstration of collaboration and the constant search for each patient’s best possible care.