HCN News & Notes

Events Aim to Facilitate Conversations About End-of-life Care, Planning

NORTHAMPTON — More than 25 libraries throughout the region and medical professionals from Cooley Dickinson Health Care are teaming up to sponsor community conversations about end-of-life care and planning.

Each library will offer community conversations based on Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Dr. Atul Gawande. View the list of library-hosted discussions and events at www.cooley-dickinson.org/main/being-mortal-community-book-read.aspx.

The community conversations start Saturday, March 5, and events will continue through Wednesday, April 20. An end-of-life community lecture featuring Dr. Vicki Jackson, chief, Division of Palliative Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, will be held on Thursday, April 14 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Edwards Church in Northampton.

Dr. Jeffrey Zesiger, director of Palliative Care at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and an event organizer, says the goal of the initiative is to help community members prepare for the later stages of life, as well as better understand the aging process, death and dying, and advanced care planning. As a palliative-care physician who helps people cope near the end of their lives, he often sees patients, their families, and their friends under extreme stress.

“Our society is neither comfortable with nor used to discussing serious illness or dying,” Zesiger said. “It is my hope that, by offering book reads and local discussion groups throughout Hampshire and Franklin counties, we will begin to have meaningful, sustained dialogue about our wishes regarding end-of-life care.”

Lisa Downing, assistant director and patron services librarian at Forbes Library and an event organizer, echoes Zesiger’s wish for conversations about end-of-life care. “As librarians, we believe in the power of books to spark discussion and dialogue. We are very excited to have so many public libraries partnering with Cooley Dickinson.” She added that the book tells a thought-provoking story that is sure to reach readers on both intellectual and emotional levels as Gawande reminds readers that “endings matter.”

To ensure ample copies of Gawande’s book are available at local libraries, $3,000 has been donated to Cooley Dickinson to purchase copies of Being Mortal. Downing said books are available at participating libraries, including books available in large print and as audio editions. She said the book is also available as an e-book or e-audio through Overdrive and the Commonwealth eBook Collection. Librarians have more information about these editions.

For more information about Being Mortal events, e-mail Lisa Downing at ldowning@forbeslibrary.org or call (413) 587-1017.

The April 14 event with Jackson, part of Cooley Dickinson’s continuing community-education series, is free and open to all, but space is limited, and registration is required by calling (888) 554-4234 or visiting www.cooley-dickinson.org/classes.

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