Dr. Helen Kao is Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, and Medical Director of Clinical Innovations at Lumina Hospice and Palliative Care in Corvallis, Oregon, where she moved in 2016.
Helen completed both her residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Geriatrics at UCSF. She is dedicated to working with vulnerable older adults in both her clinical practice and through her leadership in implementing health systems change. She spearheaded the partnership between UCSF and Lifelong Medical Care, a community health organization, through which she provided primary care, house calls, nursing home and inpatient care, and hospice care through the Over 60 Health Center in Berkeley. While in Berkeley, she co-founded the Over 60 Bridge program to provide palliative care for patients with advanced illness who were not yet eligible or ready for hospice . Her rich experiences at the Over 60 Health Center inspired her current career focus on health systems improvement and development of innovative models of integrated care for older adults. She founded the Geriatrics Transitions, Consultation, and Comprehensive Care (GeriTraCCC) service in 2010 which, in collaboration with UCSF Medical Center and UC Home Health teams, has dramatically improved the well-being for frail older adults with congestive heart failure. GeriTraCCC was renamed Bridges in 2013 and reorganized to provide home-based palliative care. She co-founded the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors with Dr Welty and faculty from UC Hastings School of the Law in 2012. This is one of only a handful of medical-legal clinics in the US focused on the needs of older adults.
Helen served as Medical Director of Geriatrics Clinical Services 2010-2016. Since 2017, she returns to UCSF from Oregon on a part-time basis to attend on the UCSF inpatient geriatrics service (Acute Care for Elders unit, Hip Fracture Co-management service, and Geriatrics Consults). Helen has been recognized with awards of distinction not only for her clinical care but also for her teaching and leadership.