Tag Archives: hospice

Talking about end of life and palliative care: Part two of a conversation with Nancy Berlinger

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: James Hancox via Flickr

Photo: James Hancox via Flickr

Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., is a research scholar at The Hastings Center and co-author of a retrospective article on palliative and end-of-life care that was published in the Feb. 12 New England Journal of Medicine.

In part one of our conversation, Berlinger focused on the need to broaden the discussion among and improve training of clinicians on talking to patients about end of life issues. In part two, she discusses foreseeable scenarios, societal perspectives and how to improve media coverage of this complex topic. Continue reading

How the discussion on dying has changed over 40 years: A conversation with Nancy Berlinger

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

If you want a refresher on how far society has come on dealing with end-of-life care issues — and what issues are still to be resolved — then this retrospective article in the Feb 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine from experts at The Hastings Center is a great place to begin. It reviews the history of the end-of-life care movement in the U.S., takes a look at the integration of palliative care into health care delivery, discusses the still controversial “death with dignity” laws and ethical issues like removal of feeding and hydration tubes.

I recently spoke with co-author Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., a research scholar at Hastings, about how the conversation on death and dying has changed over four decades. Continue reading

Fraud, marketing just part of problems with hospice system

About Paul Kleyman

Paul Kleyman is director, ethnic elders newsbeat, for New America Media and the national coordinator of the Journalists Network on Generations, a group of 1,000 journalists who cover issues in aging.

Photo by Richard White via Flicker

Photo by Richard White via Flicker

A Huffington Post exposé in June, “Hospice, Inc.,” rekindled some thoughts I’ve long had about the split personality of the journalism on complex topics like aging.

One week, readers see richly reported news features, usually by health care or feature reporters, about the struggle of elders and their families caught in this country’s messy long-term care system. The next, readers get stories by political, economics reporters on bipartisan budget debates (how much to cut this year) or exposés that aim for accountability, but don’t help most families.

The Huffington Post project got me thinking – what’s the responsibility of an investigative team posting an approximately 7,000-word, six-month investigation? How can they get beyond house-of-horrors revelations? Continue reading

How to talk about death and dying #ahcj14

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Pia ChristensenDavid Casarett, M.D., talks about hospice care during a panel at Health Journalism 2014,

Photo: Pia ChristensenDavid Casarett, M.D., talks about hospice care during a panel at Health Journalism 2014,

Journalists need to talk about death responsibly and honestly, and should be part of the communication process between provider and families, said AHCJ Board Member Irene Wielawski, who moderated “Crisis, cost and quality: New angles on end-of-life care” on Saturday at Health Journalism 2014 in Denver.

David Casarett, M.D., director, hospice and palliative care, University of Pennsylvania Health System, shared the story of a 66-year old patient with advanced heart failure, whose perspective on treatment caused him to shift his thinking about what end-of-life care should look like and what hospice care should be all about.

He convinced CMS to fund a pilot project that supported upstream alternative, palliative care, which focuses on improving quality of life and assisting with medical decision making while living in concert with aggressive treatment. This approach helps patients manage day-to-day symptoms, provides emotional and spiritual support and helps patients to figure out what treatments make sense; it also provides practical  support for family and caregivers, all while reducing hospitalizations and improving outcomes. Continue reading

Chicago members learn about changing end-of-life conversations

About Carla K. Johnson

Carla K. Johnson (@CarlaKJohnson) is a medical writer at The Associated Press and has covered health and medicine since 2001. A former member of AHCJ's board of directors, she leads the Chicago AHCJ chapter.

Julie Goldstein, M.D., Martha Twaddle, M.D., Mary Mulcahy, M.D., and Randi Belisomo (left to right) discussed end-of-life care at an AHCJ Chicago chapter event on June 11.

Photo: Carla K. JohnsonJulie Goldstein, M.D., Martha Twaddle, M.D., Mary Mulcahy, M.D., and Randi Belisomo (left to right) discussed end-of-life care at an AHCJ Chicago chapter event on June 11.

A series of chats between two women on side-by-side elliptical trainers at a health club led to the founding of a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about end-of-life care.

On one machine was Randi Belisomo, a WGN reporter in Chicago and now a member of AHCJ. Beside her was Northwestern University oncologist Mary Mulcahy, M.D., who had treated Belisomo’s husband, political reporter Carlos Hernandez Gomez, as he died of colon cancer at age 36.

Belisomo and Mulcahy told the Chicago chapter of AHCJ how they co-founded Life Matters Media to spread the word about the importance of planning ahead to make one’s wishes known about medical care and quality of life before one’s death.

“We like to take the stance there’s no right or wrong in end-of-life decision making,” Belisomo said. “There’s only decision making.” Continue reading

Tip sheet offers guidance for covering hospice, palliative care

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

As 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, Medicare spending will skyrocket. About 30 percent of Medicare’s costs are for care in the last year of life. Research has shown that many people nearing the end of life are not informed of their treatment options and their doctors are unaware of their preferences for treatment, which contributes to a lower quality of life at the end of life.

Core Topics
Health Reform
Aging
Other Topics

Author and editor Rosemary Gibson has written a guide for AHCJ members that explains hospice and palliative care, the differences in the two, highlights the most recent research, lays out developments and trends for reporters to look for and provides a list of sources and contact information.

Every family is touched by the end of life of a loved one. Every reporter who covers Medicare policy and health and aging issues will want to know about hospice and palliative care.

The tip sheet is just one of dozens AHCJ offers in its special “Aging” core topic area of healthjournalism.org.