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A Quiet Room

Quiet Room Gathering

A Quiet Room

Oakland native, Kathy Knudsen, married the love of her life, Peder, after her father set up their blind date in 1979. Peder ran a successful insurance business, and Kathy worked as an emergency room and surgical radiology technician at Merritt Hospital.

In 1995, the couple received devastating news when Peder was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. “Peder never complained, and his recovery was miraculous,” says Kathy.

In 2008, however, complications from his cancer sent Peder to the emergency department at John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek Medical Center. At that time, the emergency department was challenged by limited space for a growing number of patients, and Peder was placed in an ancillary triage area. Sadly, his heart stopped beating, and he suffered a fatal stroke.

When Kathy learned that Peder had died, she was stunned—and angry. “I couldn’t understand how that could have happened. I wanted to blame someone—the doctors and the hospital.” But then she thought of what Peder would have wanted her to do. “He had the highest integrity of any person I have ever known, and he would have wanted to turn something negative into something positive.”

Kathy's admiration for Peder inspired her to begin providing financial support to John Muir Health close to a decade ago. “When Peder was admitted, the emergency department needed more resources to treat more patients, and I wanted to help.”

Recently, Kathy made possible the addition of a Quiet Room located at the John Muir Health, Walnut Creek Medical Center Emergency Department. "My wish was answered--anyone having to hear and bear bad and/or life altering news will not have to hear it amidst strangers, and will be given time to assimilate it privately." The Quiet Room has become an essential space for patients and their families, and is the heart of John Muir Health.  “I turned my grief into doing something good; that’s what Peder would have wanted.”