2019: End-of-Life Care

All lives come to an end. How do we prepare ourselves and our loved ones for the close of life?

The global population is aging at an unprecedented rate. What changes does the medical community need to support the effects on the healthcare system of increased longevity and greater numbers of people facing death? How do we ensure that our families and other private caregivers and healthcare professionals are prepared to provide quality, patient-centered care? What is dying like? What does it mean to care well for someone facing the close of life? How does society prepare to support those at the end of life?

In times of acute health crises, family members and those closest to us may need to make a myriad of health decisions with us or on our behalf if we are unable to make those decisions. They will also need to care for us and to live with us as we die. Sometimes death is sudden and other times it may mean a slow decline over months or years. How do we ensure that we and our loved ones are as ready as possible? How can we make sure that our wishes are known to those making decisions? How can the healthcare community and society support both professional and personal caregivers? 


On February 7, 2019, we convened a conversation at Georgetown about some of the most difficult and universal issues facing our society. We will bring together a variety of perspectives to discuss care at the end of life.

The event was held in Gaston Hall at 7pm, preceded by an opening reception beginning at 6pm in Riggs Library

This year’s panelists include:

Eduardo Bruera, MD, FAAHPM – Professor of Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston – a palliative care physician, is Department Chair and Professor of Medicine in the  Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine

Perry Ann Reed, MBA, MS, FACHE – Executive Director, WakeMed Children’s Hospital – healthcare manager and clinical ethicist, is Executive Director, at WakeMed Children’s Hospital, Raleigh, North Carolina

John Duberstein, J.D. – widower of poet and writer Nina Riggs, author of the bestselling book The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying (2017, Simon and Schuster). Mr. Duberstein and Ms. Riggs are the parents of two young sons; they were married almost 17 years. Ms. Riggs lived with metastatic triple negative breast cancer for two years before her death at age 39.

The discussion was moderated by Daniel Sulmasy, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Research Scholar and Acting Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, André Hellegers Professor of Biomedical Ethics.


 Panel Discussion

For those interested in learning more about this topic or our incredible panelists, our esteemed Bioethics Research Library has curated this list of additional materials.