claire koga speaking at keiro symposium
Claire at Keiro’s Symposium

Keiro interviewed Dr. Claire Koga, current Keiro board member and past medical director at the former facilities, about her history with Keiro and her perspective, as a retired physician, on the relevance of Keiro’s services to older adults in Our Community.

Claire Koga’s first encounter with Keiro dates to 1983, when her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor while she was finishing her medical residency. Her father’s condition gradually worsened, to the point where he could no longer swallow, and the family decided to place him at Keiro Nursing Home. Claire recalled those times, sharing, “It was such a difficult time in my life and for my family, but Keiro was so wonderful. The staff was very caring, and he was well cared for. I was so moved by their care.”

This experience with Keiro then inspired her to specialize in geriatrics. After completing her medical training, Claire returned to Keiro to see patients and learn from the staff about how to best care for older adults. She commented that Keiro not only was a place for older adults, but it also played a huge role in training new physicians. “I feel that Keiro was a great training site for these young doctors to see what good nursing home care could do and what it took to do so.”

Eventually, she became the medical director at Keiro Nursing Home and Keiro Intermediate Care Facility. During her time as a physician at Keiro, she also set up programs that oversaw the quality of care at the facilities.

Claire now serves as a board member for Keiro. Reflecting on her long history with Keiro, she shared that while the service delivery has evolved, some things have not changed. “Keiro’s commitment to providing innovative and needed care for older adults – that has always been the case.” Claire brought up Iyashi Care as an example of how the traditions of innovation and providing care for the community continue. “Keiro helped me at a time when my family and I really needed it, and I am so glad we still do that today through Iyashi Care – giving that comfort to anyone who needs it. Palliative care fills a lot of gaps in the current health care system and most importantly, focuses on the needs of the patients and their families.”  

Looking at her journey with Keiro, she reflected, “I just feel very lucky to have found Keiro. First as a young adult who needed help taking care of my father and then as a place that inspired me in my career, and taught me so much – I appreciate being around so many dedicated, creative, energetic, people who care so much about their community. It’s just been a wonderful experience, and I’ve been very fortunate to play a small part in it.”