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In Memoriam: Nancy Mansfield, BA, MA, PhD


Children’s Hospital Los Angeles recently lost a dear colleague and friend. Nancy Mansfield, BA, MA, PhD, passed away on Nov. 23 of cardiac arrest.


Dr. Mansfield served as the executive director of the Institute for Families, which is part of The Vision Center.  She had been a family therapist and patient and family advocate within the Division of Ophthalmology since 1987.


“Dr. Mansfield advised physicians and support staff in The Vision Center, in the Institute for Maternal-Fetal Health and throughout Children’s Hospital on handling issues of grief faced by families who have just been informed that their child will be significantly visually impaired or have life-threatening health issues,” says A. Linn Murphree, MD, director of the Retinoblastoma Program of The Vision Center.


“Most often she was present when the difficult news was given to parents.”


Her lectures, publications and teaching aids provided health care professionals with techniques and tools they could use to deliver bad news in a “professionally kind” manner. Dr. Mansfield’s concept of professional kindness and her theories on this subject were recognized internationally. Her many contributions helped to make CHLA’s retinoblastoma program one of the major referral programs for this disease in North America.


Mansfield’s work in The Vision Center had been so transforming that, in 2003, she was asked by the Maternal-Fetal Health Institute at CHLA to offer her unique skills to parents and families facing the delivery of a child with catastrophic developmental abnormalities.


“A real measure of the impact of an individual in health care comes from testimonials given by families for whom the tragedy of a severely ill or dying child is long in the past,” says Dr. Murphree. “I am personally aware of scores of families who have told me that Dr. Mansfield’s help in the time of their emotional crisis is what saved their marriage.”


“She touched so many in a very personal way,” says Dr. Mark Borchert, director of The Vision Center. “She was the soul and conscience of our division, and motivated all of us to care more. She is deeply missed.”


Dr. Mansfield’s accomplishments took center stage nationally in 2008 when she was recognized by O, The Oprah Magazine in a feature titled “Tomorrow’s Leaders.” She was one of 80 women selected from more than 3,000 women all across the nation who applied for the position at the prestigious conference, held in New York, NY. Sharing the editorial stage with other female visionaries, Dr. Mansfield had said, “Watching families disintegrate due to illness has been life-altering for me. The divorce or separation rate for couples with a sick family member is approximately 82 percent, according to the latest literature. I believe that it is our responsibility as a society to help people build bridges rather than erect walls.”


She was also honored at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles when she received the 2007 Morris and Mary Press CHLA Humanism Award in the Support – Patient Care category.


“Nancy was a true inspiration,” says Lisa Schiller, administrator of Patient Relations and Service Excellence. “She always thought about what was best for her patients and was very focused on maintaining their safety and security. If anyone embodied a family centered care philosophy, it was Nancy. She went out of her way to prevent her patients from having emotional side effects after any given procedure or major surgery.


“We have lost a deeply committed and soulful employee who was the pillar for thousands of families, during her career at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.”


Dr. Mansfield will be deeply missed by hospital staff, physicians, patients and families, as well as by her family and friends.


A “Celebration of Life” will be held to honor Nancy Mansfield, PhD, on Jan. 29, 2011 at All Saints Church, 132 North Euclid Avenue, Pasadena, California, at 11:30 a.m.  If you have personal memories, comments, photos, letters, or videos that you would like to incorporate into this celebration of Nancy’s life, please send them to Jazmin Asbun by January 14, 2011:


4650 Sunset Blvd, Mail Stop 111
Los Angeles, CA 90027


Immediately following, a reception will also be held at the Westin Hotel, adjacent to All Saints Church, in Pasadena.  If you plan to attend the reception for Nancy, we ask that you kindly RSVP to Jazmin Asbun at by January 14, 2011.


Donations in Nancy’s honor can be made to The Institute for Families.
4650 Sunset Blvd, Mail Stop 111
Los Angeles, CA 90027