The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

April 11, 2014

Continuing the conversation on end-of-life care

Talking about end-of-life care is a subject that most people already find scary enough. And the rhetorical firestorm a few years ago around supposed “death panels” and “pulling the plug on grandma” not only served to distract people from having a rational discussion of overdue health care reform, but it also scared some people further away from taking the steps necessary to make sure their family members and their doctor know their preferences for end-of-life care.

Since then, the 2011 film “Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject,” has become a very helpful tool for persuading families of the benefits of discussing such an important topic. Produced by Terry Kaldhusdal and Michael Bernhagen — who both lost loved ones to severe chronic disease — the film is focused on helping people take the steps necessary to ensure that end-of-life care is “more person-centered and less system-centered.”

“When it’s your time to die, where would you like to be and with whom?” Bernhagen asked in a 2013 interview with Milwaukee Public Radio. “What kind of care would you want? Why is hope not the same as having a plan? What does quality of life mean to you? What matters most to you at the end of life, how would you like to live at the end of your life?”

To help area families recognize they have nothing to fear from asking such questions, the local group Honoring Your Wishes and the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center will be teaming up for a screening of “Consider the Conversation” at 7 p.m. April 16 in the Senior Center’s Assembly Room, 28 S. Linn St. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Pat Heiden, executive director of Oaknoll; the Rev. Steven Protzman, minister at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City; Nicole Peterson, lecturer with the University of Iowa College of Nursing; and Syndy Conger, a volunteer at the Senior Center and New Song Episcopal Church.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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