What a birthday present it was! On May 20, 2013, Ann Broekhuizen went to the statehouse in Montpelier to witness Governor Peter Shumlin sign the Patient Choice at the End of Life Act. With that, Vermont became the fourth state to authorize death with dignity. “I’m very proud of Vermont for this,” she says.
Ann worked as a nurse for 43 years in both hospitals and nursing homes, and for Medicare and Medicaid surveying healthcare facilities. Now retired, Ann has actively supported end-of-life choice since 2010 in Vermont – a state that worked for a dozen years to pass the recent legislation.
Of her initial motivation to become actively involved with Compassion & Choices and the end-of-life choice movement, Ann explains, “It probably goes back to working as a nurse and seeing people who, in my opinion, were not appropriately cared for at the end of life.” As a volunteer, Ann attended legislative hearings and participates in C&C meetings – even hosting them at her home. She also attends C&C events around Vermont and plans to go through training next spring to work directly with patients. “I’ve always advocated for patients’ rights and encouraged people to be involved in their own options for care, believing they should be treated with respect, allowing time for discussion and management of their lives and what their wishes are.”
Ann notes there’s more conversation about end-of-life issues now than there used to be and that the state’s primary healthcare system has developed good policies to incorporate the practice. “We still need to get the word out there – a lot of people aren’t even aware of the law yet,” she says. “But I’m just really happy and excited that Vermont did this.”
Visit our state pages to see how you can get involved in your area.