Hospice of Frederick County’s Executive Director Carlos Graveran
(left) and Medical Director Dr. Mary McDonald (right) welcomed nationally
recognized patient rights advocate Dr. Angelo Volandes to Frederick for
a special presentation on end-of-life issues
Dr. Angelo Volandes has a simple message for those who have not spelled
out their wishes for their end-of-life care: If you don’t tell your
family and your doctors what you desire, the medical community will decide
for you. Is that what you want?
Dr. Volandes practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital
in Boston and is a noted author, lecturer and patient rights advocate.
His book, “The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life
Care,” encourages families to talk about how they want to live at
the end of their lives.
When patients fail to tell their loved ones what they want, whether that
be every measure possible or only comfort care, “a lot of what will
happen to you will be determined by my pen or the click of my mouse,” he said.
But Dr. Volandes stresses that is not the way it should be. “Despite
all the emphasis on patient-centered care, in those cases (when patients
don’t indicate what they want) the doctor makes the decision,”
he said. “It is time for patients to take back control of that decision.”
Research indicates that more than 90 percent of all Americans want to die
at home, surrounded by their families and loved ones. “Yet two-thirds
of those over 65 will die in a healthcare setting,” Dr. Volandes said.
The solution to preventing that scenario is simple. “Have the conversation,”
he said. “Talk to your loved ones and then talk to your medical
team and make sure they know your wishes. Because if you don’t tell
us, you may get what you don’t want.”
In a presentation that was equal parts humorous and pointed, Dr. Volandes
said that people need to think of “The Conversation” as not
about discussing death, but about “talking about a good life and
what is possible.”
The solution to receiving unwanted, costly care lies in making sure your
wishes are clearly expressed, understood, and documented. As the main
character discovered, in the one-act play “Dusk” that came
before Dr. Volandes’ presentation, making those decisions is a gift
to yourself and your loved ones.
Some patients may indicate they want every measure available to stave off
death, perhaps because they have something they truly want to live to
see, such as a grandchild’s wedding. Others may indicate that quality—not
quantity—of life is the ultimate goal. There is no “right”
or “wrong” answer. The only bad answer is no answer at all.
“Otherwise, life’s final chapter is written by the healthcare
system that doesn’t always have the patient in mind,” Dr.
The production of “Dusk,” along with Dr. Volandes’ presentation
afterward, are part of Hospice of Frederick County’s continuing
efforts to support local families in their efforts to decide how they
want to live when faced with a serious or terminal illness. “Our
goal is not to steer people to Hospice,” said Carlos Graveran, executive
director of Hospice of Frederick County. “This is about our efforts
to educate and support the community so they can make an informed decision
in the future.”
Hospice of Frederick County Offers Encore Production of “Dusk”
If you missed the November production of “Dusk,” a one-act
play that examines end-of-life care, catch encore performances and panel
discussions on April 2, 2018 at Hood College and on April 30, 2018 at
Mount St. Mary’s University. Presented in collaboration with Maryland
- Monday, April 2, 2018 - Hood College Hodson Auditorium (located in the
- Monday, April 30, 2018 - Mount St. Mary’s University (Knott Auditorium)
Showtime for both dates is 6-8 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with light
refreshments to follow.)
This event is sponsored by Stauffer Funeral Homes and Home Care Assistance.
This event is free and open to the public.
Register today for this free event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
by calling 240-566-4055.