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Opinion Community Commentary

Laurie Fagen acquiesces her space to those who have more to say than she this issue.

Time to personalize the dying process

Medicare – or patients should be routinely given the option to die a natural death at home surrounded by people they love, Byock says. “We Baby Boomers need to get back in our game. We transformed the birth process, making it a personal experience, not a medical event. The same transformation needs to take place at end of life. It’s time to take it back.” Byock spoke recently to 275

Dr. Ira Byock Submitted photo

BY BEVERLY MEDLYN Dying well – pain-free, at home, with dignity and loving support – is what most of us want, says Dr. Ira Byock, one of the nation’s foremost experts on end-of-life care. But even now, 35 years after the modern-day hospice movement began, with 5,000 hospice programs nationwide, it’s still not what most of us get.

While surveys show most people

would prefer to die comfortably at home, about 70% die in institutions, with 20% of those dying in intensive care units, Byock says. America has reached a fork in the

road about end-of-life care. Either the nation continues escalating the expensive disease-treatment system that imposes increasing burdens of illness on people with life-limiting diseases – threatening to bankrupt

community physicians and healthcare leaders at a dinner at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa sponsored by Hospice of the Valley. He is the author of the newly released book “The Best Care Possible.” He is also director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center and a professor at Dartmouth Medical Center. Most Medicare spending goes to beneficiaries in their last year of life, typically for acute care in hospital settings. Increased utilization of hospice and palliative care would bring medical practice into alignment with many patients’ goals; it also would reign in healthcare costs. Byock cited the following barriers: -- Reluctance to think and talk about death. Patients, families and doctors don’t want to address the inevitable so they continue pursuing treatment. -- Polarized politics: death squads;

pro-life, assisted suicide; rationed healthcare. Political and healthcare leaders

shy from end-of-life issues for fear of igniting opposition.

-- Either / or choices for Medicare. Currently people with late-stage chronic illnesses must make a choice between Medicare coverage for hospice or curative treatment. The better option would be Medicare coverage for a continuum of care involving both. -- Ill-prepared physicians. Most medical schools don’t prepare physicians for compassionate conversations with patients about end-of-life. The nation’s policymakers

need to make macro system changes, starting with the current reimbursement system that rewards treatment. Hospices need to offer more programs such as Hospice of the Valley’s Arizona Palliative Home Care, which cares for late- stage chronically ill patients not on hospice. Community and political leaders should address end-of-life care rather than hide from it. Physicians should love their patients, treating them with the same TLC they would a family member, Byock says. For individuals, Byock offers this poignant ad vice: “Get a family.” The family could be neighbors,

a faith community, friends who watch out for each another or the traditional model. “The best assisted living

arrangement I’ve seen is an old married couple,” he says. Beverly Medlyn is communications

director at Hospice of the Valley, the nation’s largest nonprofit hospice, serving 4,000 patients and families a day in central Arizona, including Chandler.

Oops – An incorrect contact phone number was submitted for the KOG Clarinet Choir in the “Residents at VAO get musical treat” in the May 19th issue. For those wishing to inquire about the community group of clarinetists who perform a variety of secular and religious music plus patriotic, film songs and others for no charge as community outreach projects can call Jack Vander Woude at 602-390-4106 or to schedule.

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JUNE 16, 2012 ISSUE 38,000

Total Circulation 29,500+ Driveways

Fifty square mile coverage area from Price/101 to Greenfield and from Frye to Hunt Highway.

An evening with real-life Band of Brothers member

BY VICE-MAYOR JEFF WENINGER As part of Chandler’s Centennial Celebration and in commemoration of Yom Ha’Shoah, or Holocaust Remembrance, the East Valley Jewish Community Center (EVJCC) hosted a special speaking engagement by 89-year-old World War II Col. Edward Shames. Shames served as a member of the 506th

Parachute Infantry Regiment and Easy Company. The name Easy Company may sound familiar to some as it was made famous by the HBO mini- series “Band of Brothers.” Shames, for the first time ever, opened up about his experiences at Germany’s oldest concentration camp, Dachau. The Dachau concentration camp was structured in 1933 on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory. Dachau served as a model for many camps that followed. During its first year, 4,800 prisoners were held in the camp. Between 1933 and 1945, more than 188,000 people were imprisoned at Dachau. U.S. Forces liberated the camp in April 1945. Once in Dachau, U.S. forces discovered a series of railroad cars filled with bodies. Prior to Shames’ remarks, members of the public were given an opportunity to see such a car. The rare Holocaust-era rail car came from Macedonia and was the type used by Nazis as they transported Holocaust victims to death camps. After traveling more than 11,000 miles, the rail car reached its permanent destination here in Chandler. It is now being stored in a safe location and will serve as an exhibit at the future Holocaust and Tolerance Museum. This will undoubtedly become one of the most historical museum exhibits in the state. In 2009, the East Valley Jewish Community

Center announced plans to build the museum next to their existing building, which will be dedicated to educating the public about the Holocaust.

SEE Band of Brothers PAGE 38

June 2 - 15, 2012


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however, please keep your Letters to the editor around 200-300 words, or they may be edited for length. Include your first and last name, community or development name in Southern Chandler (Cooper Commons, Ocotillo, Sun Groves, etc.) or ZIP code and daytime phone number for verification. Anonymous letters are not typically accepted. Email is the preferred submission method, to All submitted Letters to the Editor and Community Commentaries become the property

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