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Thank you Dr. Israel!

We applaud and need more doctors like New Jersey physician, Jessica Israel, MD to share the thoughtful journey that led them to participate in medical aid in dying (MAID) for their patients. In California and all the other states that have MAID, as well as in states that don’t yet have this legal option available but are working diligently to get similar laws passed, we need more Dr. Israels to be open about fully supporting the wishes of their dying patients.

It is our hope that the first ever National Clinicians Conference on Medical Aid in Dying, taking place on February 14-15 in Berkeley, CA, will provide guidance and support to those medical practitioners wishing to learn more about how to help their dying patients achieve a ”good death”. 

EOLCCA has made great progress in learning about and communicating with physicians in private practice  – and with hospices – in California who support MAID. These medical providers have been prescribing medical aid in dying and are accepting our client referrals for help finding a physician who will prescribe MAID.  We hope that following the conference, many more physicians and hospices will partner with us and our clients to adequately explore all their end-of-life options.  

Click below to read Dr. Israel’s story.

 A day like no other: The first time I helped one of my patients die  

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End of Life Choices California offers information and personal support to anyone seeking help facing end-of-life decisions through our statewide volunteer and education programs. You can read about all our services here on our website.

Going online shopping this weekend?

A New and SUPER Easy Way to Contribute to our Important Work! 

Hello Friends,

We know how many requests for financial support come through your inbox for nonprofits and political causes; especially with the upcoming elections.

As a small nonprofit dedicated to improving how people die in California we  also count on your financial contributions to help us stay afloat.

While we will always appreciate and accept any donation you make to us: year-end, or otherwise, we’d like to share another way you can make small contributions EVERY TIME YOU PURCHASE SOMETHING ON AMAZON!  And doesn’t everyone use Amazon at least once in a while?

It’s very easy. Just follow this link to AmazonSmile and underneath the browser window you’ll see it says “supporting”.  You simply search for End of Life Choices California, and click save to make us your charity.

The trick is, be sure that every time you shop at Amazon, you go through this link in order for us to receive the donation of 0.5% of the amount of your purchase.  Only purchases made via smile.amazon.com, (not www.amazon.com or the mobile app) generate AmazonSmile donations.

We hope you’ll find it in your heart and in your wallet to help us in this small way from now on.  We appreciate every dollar generated.   Thank you!

If you would like to support the mission of End of Life Choices California,
please click below and learn more about our funding needs.
Thank you!

Barriers to Medical Aid in Dying even when it is legal

A recent story about the firing of Dr. Barbara Morris, a courageous geriatric physician in Colorado who went to court to fight for the right of her patient to use the state’s medical aid-in-dying law, is yet another warning for those of us in California and other states who are working hard to lift the barriers to compassionate and timely access to medical aid in dying (MAID) for the terminally ill.

This latest incident, involving a physician who independently chose to prescribe medical aid-in-dying for her patient and as a result was fired from her job with a jointly run Catholic/Seventh-day Adventist hospital system opposed to MAID, is as unfortunate as what recently occurred in New Jersey where a single Orthodox Jewish physician had the power to temporarily stop the law from going into effect because of his personal faith-based beliefs.  

We have no wish to comment on religious preferences or practices, however, we believe that such barriers to health care do not belong in a democratic and compassionate society such as ours.  New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli, one of the law’s sponsors, speaks directly to our concern when he says: “I have my beliefs, you have your beliefs, but don’t use the machinery of government to impose them on others.”    

Enough barriers are already built into the system.

The physical and emotional barriers most terminally ill individuals face in accessing medical-aid in-dying in California and other states that have adopted a law are already burdensome enough: family members opposed due to their own beliefs; physicians who have often been treating the patient for years and refuse to prescribe based on their own beliefs; hospices, social workers and health care providers opposed to MAID that won’t even inform a patient of their right to request the medication nor give the patient a referral to a health care provider who is willing to prescribe as stipulated in the law.  Moreover, the process to request MAID in California is lengthy and daunting, including a wait time of a minimum 15 days, which every individual, sick and debilitated as he/she is, must go through who wishes to ease their end-stage suffering with medical aid-in-dying. Oregon just wisely corrected this stipulation and those who are very near death can now access the law in a shorter period of time.

Are you a compassionate physician?

End of Life Choices California was founded on a belief system and mission: to enable those who face end of life situations to have access to ALL the information available and a support-system to make informed decisions about how they wish to die, including the option of medical aid-in-dying.  

We continue to search for more physicians throughout California to whom terminally-ill individuals can turn for compassionate care, understanding, and support of whatever end of life option they choose, including medical aid-in-dying if they qualify under the law.

If you are one of those compassionate physicians or a medical provider of any kind, we would love to know about you so that as we get calls and emails from people who need help accessing the California End of Life Option Act we can reach out to you and see if our client would be an appropriate referral.  In addition, if any of you, our readers, have had a positive experience with a doctor or hospice about end-of-life choice, and would like to share your story with us, we would be very grateful to hear from you. Ways to contact EOLCCA.  Thank you!

In the Middle of a Revolution on Death

The Revolution is upon us

The recent Washington Post article, “We’re in the middle of a revolution on death” is gently thought-provoking and describes a trend that we hope will become the reality for more Californians.  Specifically, those who are facing terminal illness and wish to spend their last days not in an induced coma, in agony tethered to life support in a hospital, or suffering excessive medical intervention and expecting a miracle. Instead, these patients are offered the option to die in their own home with access to medical aid-in-dying and surrounded by loved ones.  In California, the good news is that medical aid-in-dying became available to the terminally ill via the End of Life Option Act in June of 2016. However, the reality is that many of those who might choose to access this law have neither the information nor the support they would need to obtain the prescription when it could make the most difference.

“Don’t tell me what I have to do.”

As Dick Shannon, the subject of the new HBO documentary “Alternate Endings”, released by HBO August 14, 2019, plainly states:

“My observation about the way people die, at least in America, is they are not allowed the opportunity to be part of the process.  For my way of thinking, the part that bothers me immensely is not being allowed to be part of that process. It’s my death. Go with what you believe, but don’t tell me what I have to do.” 

Our Mission

That, in a nutshell, is the mission of End of Life Choices California: to bring more attention to these issues in our populous state. We aim to make sure that BOTH those seeking medical services and those providing medical services are working with the same information and understanding when it comes to these critical discussions about end of life decision-making.  Our goal is simply to help more Californians, in clear, honest and informed communication with their physician and family, decide for themselves how they will die with their dignity intact and leave a peaceful legacy for their loved ones.

I am looking forward to seeing this new documentary.  It looks like it will be just the kind of film we will want to include in our resource-rich website, endoflifechoicesca.org,  which is designed to assist anyone (patients, hospices, nurses, physicians, journalists) seeking information about California’s End of Life Option Act.  The site, also offers other end-of-life planning tools to help individuals take control over how they die, in the same way they have engaged in their life.

End of Life Choices California offers information and personal support to anyone seeking help facing end-of-life decisions through our state-wide volunteer program. You can read about our services here.

 

Client Advocate Volunteer Training Program Launched

EOLCCA inaugurated its first Client Advocate Volunteer Training program on June 2, 2019 in Tarzana, CA.  We spent a fact-filled day training four wonderful volunteers from the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, sharing information and reviewing best practices we expect from all EOLCCA Client Advocate Volunteers.   

Pictured above (r-l) are Stefanie Elkins, Judy Schnack, Karen Morin Green, Jill Schock, Lynne Zamarin, Judy Epstein, Lynne Calkins and Claudia Comins

We discussed the caring approach each volunteer will adopt in providing non-judgemental support to a terminally-ill client, and their loved ones, as they navigate the process of exploring all legal end of life options available to them in California, including medical aid in dying, allowed by the End of Life Option Act.  During that stage, the client and/or family may seek our experience and support as they interact with a new and unfamiliar array of healthcare providers, or to effectively communicate to family and their physicians the decisions they have made consistent with their personal values, beliefs, and desires.

We also reviewed the importance of Advance Care Planning (ACP), so that our volunteers can be of assistance to individuals who wish to learn more about preparing Advance Directives, well before they are facing a terminal or debilitating illness.  ACP is a vital resource that enables individuals to document now their future healthcare expectations, so that if the person becomes unable to communicate their healthcare wishes, their loved ones and healthcare providers are clearly informed.  ACP is, in fact, a useful tool for adults at all stages of life, young and not-so-young! Participation in advance care planning has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety for patients and their families, and lead to improvements in end of life care. 

Please browse our website for comprehensive information about all end of life options in California, Advance Care Planning, and to learn more about the resources, services and support EOLCCA provides at no charge.