Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. Compassion & Choices Attorney Honored for Diversity Work

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    The Oregon State Bar selects Jonathan Patterson for their 2018 President’s Diversity & Inclusion Award.

    In November, Compassion & Choices Staff Attorney Jonathan Patterson received the Oregon State Bar (OSB) President’s Diversity & Inclusion Award. According to the OSB’s website, the award “recognizes members who have made significant contributions to the goal of increasing minority representation in the legal profession.”

    An integral member of the Compassion & Choices legal team, which works on behalf of individuals and their families across the country to protect end-of-life liberty, Jonathan helps ensure that people receive the care they want and are in charge of their options as they near the end of their lives.

    He also serves as the current chair of the OSB Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and was past-chair of the OSB Diversity Section. In these positions, he used his experience as an attorney in “movement law” to speak on Continuing Legal Education panels. Jonathan also spent three years as president of Oregon’s chapter of the National Bar Association (NBA) and currently serves on its national board. There, he led the effort to create the NBA LGBTQ Division and serves as its inaugural chairperson.

    Jonathan’s work has also exposed the work of Compassion & Choices to other attorneys, including those from a law firm that donated over a million dollars in free legal assistance by representing Compassion & Choices’ first legal client of color, Ana Romero. Romero, the widow of Juan Fernando Romero, was sued by his family to take away her authority to make healthcare decisions for him when he fell ill. In March 2018, a judge ruled she was rightfully in control of her husband’s medical care.

    Jonathan’s groundbreaking work at the Oregon State Bar, for the National Bar Association and in the legal community as a whole supplements his efforts at Compassion & Choices to protect the healthcare decision-making rights of all Americans.

  2. Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Charles Miller

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    Having seen hundreds of patients through the end of their lives, Hawaiʻi oncologist Charles Miller looks forward to finally being able to help patients access medical aid in dying.

    An active supporter of Compassion & Choices since 2012 as well as a member of our Doctors for Dignity program, Charles Miller’s firm belief in end-of-life options came from his more than 40 years as a medical oncologist. “Taking care of dying patients for that long a period of time, I always felt like a patient should have some say in how their life ends,” he explains. “Once you’re an oncologist, it takes some years of maturing to recognize or put into perspective that it’s not the right thing to always treat the patient; sometimes it’s best to stop treatment. It takes a while for all doctors to get used to that. In general, the patients know exactly what they want. I believe it should be our job, as physicians, to support our patients in their end-of-life choices whatever they are.” (more…)

  3. A Third Test Post

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque sollicitudin gravida libero, rhoncus venenatis velit suscipit a. Curabitur tincidunt at tellus eget ultricies. Ut leo nunc, ornare ut augue ac, dapibus commodo massa. Vestibulum et orci vel nisl faucibus consectetur euismod cursus leo. Nullam ut ligula nec velit vehicula mattis. Nam tristique, quam id rhoncus tincidunt, eros sem rhoncus enim, nec tristique ipsum leo in sem. Nullam sagittis dui at enim lacinia, sed viverra orci egestas. Pellentesque varius ligula sit amet turpis pellentesque mattis. Mauris eros velit, ultricies vel vulputate eu, mollis ac turpis. Nulla sit amet semper metus. Vestibulum ut erat condimentum sapien tincidunt aliquam. Sed tempor at nulla nec finibus. Integer eu malesuada dui, venenatis auctor urna.

  4. Another Test Post

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque sollicitudin gravida libero, rhoncus venenatis velit suscipit a. Curabitur tincidunt at tellus eget ultricies. Ut leo nunc, ornare ut augue ac, dapibus commodo massa. Vestibulum et orci vel nisl faucibus consectetur euismod cursus leo. Nullam ut ligula nec velit vehicula mattis. Nam tristique, quam id rhoncus tincidunt, eros sem rhoncus enim, nec tristique ipsum leo in sem. Nullam sagittis dui at enim lacinia, sed viverra orci egestas. Pellentesque varius ligula sit amet turpis pellentesque mattis. Mauris eros velit, ultricies vel vulputate eu, mollis ac turpis. Nulla sit amet semper metus. Vestibulum ut erat condimentum sapien tincidunt aliquam. Sed tempor at nulla nec finibus. Integer eu malesuada dui, venenatis auctor urna.

  5. Test Post

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque sollicitudin gravida libero, rhoncus venenatis velit suscipit a. Curabitur tincidunt at tellus eget ultricies. Ut leo nunc, ornare ut augue ac, dapibus commodo massa. Vestibulum et orci vel nisl faucibus consectetur euismod cursus leo. Nullam ut ligula nec velit vehicula mattis. Nam tristique, quam id rhoncus tincidunt, eros sem rhoncus enim, nec tristique ipsum leo in sem. Nullam sagittis dui at enim lacinia, sed viverra orci egestas. Pellentesque varius ligula sit amet turpis pellentesque mattis. Mauris eros velit, ultricies vel vulputate eu, mollis ac turpis. Nulla sit amet semper metus. Vestibulum ut erat condimentum sapien tincidunt aliquam. Sed tempor at nulla nec finibus. Integer eu malesuada dui, venenatis auctor urna.

  6. Hello world!

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    Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

  7. Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Woods

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    susan-woods-504For nearly two decades Susan Woods of Portland, Oregon, has supported Compassion & Choices as a donor and now a lifetime member. Retired from her career as a pediatric physical therapist working with children challenged by disabilities such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida, she answered a call for volunteers in C&C’s Portland office in 2011. “I really enjoy detail work, so I thought maybe I could help out that way,” says Susan, who assists with database maintenance, events and other projects – contributions that earned her Compassion & Choices Oregon’s Volunteer of the Year Award for 2016. “I was so honored but really thought it should be someone who goes out and works with the clients, because I have so much respect for those people and am so amazed by what they do,” she said. (more…)

  8. Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy Jacobsen

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    Nancy (left) with San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos and volunteer Connie Rubiano

    Nancy (left) with San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos and volunteer Connie Rubiano

    Nancy Jacobsen of San Francisco, California, didn’t give much thought to her own mortality until she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004. She recovered after surgery and radiation treatments, but the cancer returned 10 years later, shortly before she first heard of Compassion & Choices: “It was either online or because I picked up a magazine, and it definitely sparked my interest. I thought, ‘Wow; this is a really great organization.”

     

    It wasn’t until early in 2015 when the End of Life Option Act was introduced that Jacobsen became actively involved, though. “By that time I had retired, so I had plenty of time on my hands,” Jacobsen says. “I got in touch with the local organizer when it was still fairly early in the campaign, so there was lots to do.” Jacobsen helped start the San Francisco action team and became one of the co-leads. A primary part of her work was to round people up to attend hearings in Sacramento in support of the bill, which went into effect June 9. (more…)

  9. Volunteer Spotlight: Winnie Downes

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    DownesEMWinnie Downes of Sarasota, Florida, used to travel the world giving talks on how to manage change as executive vice president of a consulting firm in New York City that handled transitions for corporations that were merging or downsizing. That experience, combined with the difficulty of her first husband, Bill’s, death from cancer began to instill in Downes a passion for managing the transition people have at the end of life. “There was no hospice where we lived in Connecticut; I had never even heard of hospice,” Downes recalls from Bill’s illness. “I ran into the fact that doctors, when they can’t cure you, don’t help you to die. Basically three of them said, ‘We can’t do anything more for you.’ I decided through all of that there’s got to be a better way to die in America; there just has to.” (more…)

  10. Volunteer Spotlight: Wendy Smith

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    Wendy Smith RN, MSN discovered hospice her last year of nursing school after responding to a flier asking for hospice volunteers. “I absolutely loved it,” she recalls. “When my patients were actively dying, it didn’t matter if it was two or four in the morning, I was there with them – even though at the time I was already carrying a huge load balancing clinicals and school work. But I meant it when I told them I would walk that journey with them. I have never laughed and cried so much as I’ve done in hospice.”

    Four months ago, Smith relocated to Iowa from Washington state, where aid in dying has been authorized since 2009. “It saddens me that terminal patients in Iowa do not have those same options. Having kept bedside vigil with patients that were denied end-of-life options has motivated me to advocate on their behalf. “

    In January, Wendy contacted Compassion & Choices to volunteer her services. Since joining C&C, she has testified during a Senate sub-committee hearing at the Iowa State Capitol on the Iowa Death With Dignity Act, became a delegate, was appointed a position on a platform committee and interviewed with her local newspaper about the bill. She also read a resolution in support of the bill at the Iowa caucus for her precinct to thunderous applause.

    Having witnessed prolonged suffering at the bedside of patients and the gruesome death of her grandmother, which Smith describes as “probably the worst death I’ve ever experienced,” she feels privileged to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of all the people she’s taken care of over the years: “Death is the white elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, yet it is inevitable. It is our responsibility as clinicians to educate our patients to include end-of-life discussions. I am very passionate about this subject simply because it’s not death that scares me, it is the dying process. I want to have the autonomy and empowerment to make my own end-of-life decisions. No one should have to suffer.”

  11. Volunteer Spotlight: Sally Settle

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    Inspired by Brittany Maynard’s story in People magazine last year, Sally Settle’s mother, dying of leukemia, considered doing the same thing: relocating to Oregon from her home state of Minnesota in order to access medical aid in dying. “But it wasn’t realistic,” her daughter explains. “You can’t fathom giving up the last bit of time you have with your family to be on the other side of the country.” So her mother lived out her last months in increasing pain and constant worry about how bad things would get – likely she would bleed to death over several days. “Advice from the palliative care doctor was to ‘get lots of dark-colored towels so you and your family won’t be as traumatized by the experience.’”

    (more…)

  12. Volunteer Spotlight: Walter Dannhauser

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    Walter Dannhauser didn’t endure a tragic family ordeal to motivate his activism. “I just feel that there’s absolutely no reason to force people to go through this agony if they’re going to die anyway,” the East Amherst, New York, resident explains. “Why not make it easier for them and their loved ones?”

    A retired chemistry professor from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Dannhauser and his wife have volunteered at an area nursing home. That experience, as well as seeing friends who were forced to navigate difficult end-of-life situations, cemented his convictions. “I know for some people it’s just awful, because in New York we don’t have a real choice.” (more…)

  13. Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Meister

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    California volunteer Susan Meister has a powerful motivator for supporting “The End-of-Life Option Act” in her state. “I’ve been very close to some of the ethical issues that physicians deal with every day: the miracles that new technology can bring to medicine and the horrors that it wreaks on people who don’t seem to grasp how medicine can prolong death, and the discomfort doctors have in explaining there are some conditions that just can’t be healed.”

    A journalist who spent many years covering medicine and now writes for a number of Monterey County papers, Meister also devotes a good deal of her time to activism. “I’m not someone who sits and watches. Once I knew there was a campaign about to start in California, I never had a moment of doubt that I would be active in it. I have always believed that having an end-of-life option such as the one in Oregon, which I’ve followed for many years, is a vital human right,” she explains. “So the minute I had the time to work for it in my own state, I decided I would really put my energy into it.”

    In addition to writing numerous articles and op-eds about death with dignity, Meister has also met with legislators and hosted Action Team meetings. “I’ve been recruiting members to meet at my house in February, and we hope to kick off the Monterey County volunteer campaign. I’m hoping to have a public meeting soon,” she says. “I’m going to ask Sen. Bill Monning (the California bill’s sponsor) to speak.”

    Having tracked the movement for so long, she is realistic about what it will take to finally bring death with dignity to her state. “The problem always is to get people to actually do something, like call their legislator or write a letter or talk to their physicians. So that’s one of the challenges we have, to get the general public to be active,” Meister says. But she remains undeterred: “My enthusiasm and persistence will go the distance for this campaign, however long it takes.”

  14. Volunteer Spotlight: Shoshana Osofsky

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    “As a kid I was afraid of death, really afraid,” says New Jersey volunteer Shoshana Osofsky. “I used to be afraid to go to sleep for fear I wouldn’t remember to breathe while I was sleeping.” A former scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency and now a licensed acupuncturist, Shoshana took an interest in hospice work in her 40s. “I decided that one way of conquering a fear is to be in the situations that would arouse the fear. So I started hospice volunteer work.” When her life partner was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease that resulted in a steady decline until his death in 2000, Shoshana felt that her calling to do hospice work was in some way meant to prepare her to help him through his dying — and for the loss of “a really special person.” (more…)

  15. Volunteer Spotlight: Stuart Chalfin

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    Stuart Chalfin started a Compassion & Choices Philadelphia-area group in 2012 because he felt compelled by the grim news articles about how people die in modern America and the impressions gained from visiting assisted-living facilities. “I’m not a very active person politically,” admits Chalfin, but he was able to gather 40 contacts to attend his first meeting. He also reached out to State Senator Daylin Leach, a death-with-dignity backer, and arranged for him to come speak to the Philadelphia group this spring.

    It was during one of the group’s meetings that Chalfin proposed the idea of starting a legal defense fund to help the Mancini family with legal expenses. He was appalled by the plight of Barbara Mancini, who until recently was battling an “assisted suicide” charge related to the death of her 93-year-old terminally ill father. “That was a horrorshow, to have to go through that situation when her father was terminal. Their legal bills were over $100,000; she lost her job,” he said. Compassion & Choices presented the Mancini family with $20,000 raised through the fund, which will be an ongoing initiative to help others facing unjust prosecution related to end-of-life issues.  “It was so abhorrent to me, what they were doing to these poor people,” he explained, “So that was some satisfaction.” At the press conference where the C&C representatives presented the check, Joe Mancini thanked Stuart directly for his support. (more…)

  16. Volunteer Spotlight: Revathi A-Davidson

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    “When you grow up in India, people just die. They die! It’s okay to die. Here, it seems like such a taboo subject,” says Albuquerque volunteer Revathi A-Davidson. Revathi moved to the United States in 1969 and worked in healthcare for 34 years before taking on an active role with Compassion & Choices New Mexico last January. “I feel very strongly about this issue having seen the ICU, having seen adult medical patients – who are mostly elderly, you know, with multi-system involvement – where I wish families could let go and that patients knew more.”

    Now as co-chair of the Compassion & Choices New Mexico executive council, Revathi facilitates local meetings, responds to questions from the media, writes as many articles as she can and does even more reading: “I want to make sure I’m fully conversant with the issue, and really on top of the information and literature and all the many aspects of it. One thing I would like to help people understand is that Compassion & Choices is not just about aid in dying. It’s about end-of-life consultation and issues, hospice, palliative care, advance directives, and also aid in dying as one way they can exercise choice. It’s an entire gamut of services; aid in dying is one more that we would like to bring to New Mexico.”

    Revathi attended the recent trial in Albuquerque for our Morris v. New Mexico case, which would establish legal aid in dying in the state, and feels optimistic about the outcome: “We have some absolutely progressive healthcare legislation here, so I’m very hopeful. And if I can lend some effort toward making this legal in the state of New Mexico, where I’ve lived since 1979 and where I know I will be until I die, that would be just wonderful. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. People do want this choice.”


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