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Washington End-of-Life Coalition

The Washington End-of-Life Coalition is a broad-based cross-section of individuals and organizations across the state interested in improving care at the end of life.

Formed in 1997, the WEOLC provides support for the state POLST program as well as outreach and networking opportunities through our annual meeting in the fall.

2019 WEOLC Annual Meeting, Nov. 15 in Seattle

The 2019 WEOLC Annual Meeting provides an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues who share a passionate interest in the full journey of planning for end of life and after. This year’s theme is “Before, During and After: Planful Death and Dying in Washington State.” Our sessions will address:
  • The latest thinking on advance directives overall, plus planning for those with dementia.
  • Reimagining death through stories and visuals featuring home funerals and green burials.
  • New options for disposition of the body via Washington’s landmark 2019 legislation on human composting as well as alkaline hydrolysis cremation.
  • Several regional authors addressing end of life topics as well as short literary pieces about death, dying and grief.
  • A passionate personal story on the importance of leaving a legacy.

Washington End-of-Life Coalition logo

WEOLC vision and mission

Our vision

is a community where people are empowered to make knowledgeable choices regarding their end of life that are known, respected and honored.

Our mission

is to promote caring conversations about living and dying well within all communities across Washington state.

Our focus

is to provide outreach and networking opportunities through our annual membership meeting in the fall and to provide support for the state POLST paradigm program.


  1. We foster conversation to build common ground, increase understanding and collaboration, reduce polarization, and increase open honest discussion where everyone's diverse perspective is honored.
  2. We value the development of rich relationships that support leadership and facilitate networking for professionals and lay people involved in/working with serious illness and end of life issues.
  3. We believe the end of life is a natural important life cycle event.
  4. We value helping patients and families live the best life they can until they die.
  5. We believe that patients, families and communities should be empowered to choose care based on their values and goals.
  6. We believe in building diverse coalitions that create consensus in ways that improve the end-of-life experience for every person in the state of Washington.
  7. We believe that everyone in the state of Washington should have access to excellent end-of-life care.
  8. We support access to hospice and palliative care for all citizens in the state of Washington.
  9. We celebrate the successful events that have gone before in end-of-life care.

Join the WEOLC

To join, contact Brendan Cox at and ask to join. There are no annual dues. Members will receive the WEOLC information via email and will be invited to participate in the annual meeting, typically in the fall.

WEOLC steering committee

Char Barret

Founder, A Sacred Moment
Representing: A Sacred Moment
About: Char is a licensed funeral director, home funeral consultant, celebrant and founder of A Sacred Moment – Home Funeral Vigils, Green Burials & Life Celebrations funeral service. She specializes in assisting families with directing funerals in their own homes. Beyond her degree in mortuary science and formal training as a licensed funeral director, Char has been trained and is an experienced home funeral guide and celebrant. She has been a hospice volunteer since the early 90's and helped establish Camp Erin – King County, volunteering for Providence Hospice since the camp's inception in 2004.

Karin Brook, MSW

Representing: Individual
About: In her role as a hospital social worker, Karin assists patients, staff and physicians in dealing with end-of-life issues on a daily basis. Staff consult Karin with questions on the POLST form and hospice issues. She has assisted in bringing challenging questions and issues to the hospital ethics committee of which she is a member.

Gary Castillo

Chaplaincy Health Care
Representing: Chaplaincy Health Care
About: Gary Castillo has been involved with the hospice industry since 2002. He has served in various roles throughout his career culminating with his current role as Executive Director of Chaplaincy Health Care. During this time, he has had the privilege of staying close to the front-line staff that deliver the care. He is proud of the fact that he operates in an organization that allows innovation. Chaplaincy Health Care’s palliative care program was the only one of its kind when it was started nine years ago. Serving on the WA ST Hospice and Palliative Care Association as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President and then President for two years has provided Gary with insight into every hospice and palliative care program in the State of Washington.

Mary Catlin

Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest
Senior Director
Representing: Honoring Choices PNW
About: Mary Catlin began her career in health care as a Child Life Specialist working in pediatric oncology, often alongside the pediatric palliative care team. Her father passed a way around the same time, and she was blessed to have an incredible team of caregivers to support his end of life experience. Most recently, she was chair of a Medical Ethics committee with the vast majority of cases relating to end-of-life care. Her role was most often as neutral facilitator and compassionate support for the patient, family, and staff in some very challenging situations. She has has always found it to be a privilege and inspiration to be part of a patient and family’s experience of end of life care. Now with Honoring Choices PNW, Mary considers her past experiences in this area to fuel the kind of tremendous impact she believes Honoring Choices PNW can have on the experience of end of life care.

Sharmon Figenshaw RN, ARNP, ACHPN

Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
Honoring Choices Pacific NorthWest
Representing: Individual
About: Sharmon Figenshaw is a board-certified palliative care nurse practitioner, with 30 years experience in hospice and palliative medicine, a path that allowed her to discover a deep commitment to providing compassionate support to people and their families in the midst of serious illness. She currently manages the POLST/Serious Illness Clinical Skills program through Honoring Choices Pacific NorthWest, directing training that is aimed at improving how we care for people with serious illness in Washington State. These trainings are invitations for clinicians to develop skills for listening and involving the individual and their family in creating a plan for care that centers around what is important to that person. By strengthening the proper use of POLST to guide care, she hopes to ensure that each person will receive the best possible care—the right care at the right time-- for them to live meaningfully in the midst of serious illness, including the opportunity to shape their own ending. She maintains SageGuidance, to provide private consulting to individuals/families, and continues in clinical practice as a relief nurse practitioner for Whatcom Hospice/PeaceHealth palliative care in Bellingham. Sharmon lives in Bellingham with her husband where they relish the northwest for its skiing and boating access. She enjoys close ties with her 2 adult daughters, and spending summers on their boat in northern BC, where she embraces the title of “lingcod queen”.

Barb Hansen

Executive Director
Washington State Hospice and Palliative Care Organization 
Representing: WSHPCO
About: Barb has worked in hospice and home health serving patients at the end of life since 1985. She has served patients and families in a number of roles: direct patient care as an RN case manager, clinical coordinator, program director, Joint Commission nurse surveyor, and as a wound, ostomy, continence nurse consultant for both home health and hospice patients. Barb has been in her role with WSHPCO since July of 2015. She also serves as the CEO for the Oregon Hospice and Palliative Care Association. Through that role, she serve on the Oregon POLST Task Force as well as the education subcommittee of that group.

Ginny Heinitz, RN, BSN, CHPN

Palliative Care Education Coordinator & Outpatient Palliative Care Coordinator
Confluence Health
Representing: Confluence Health
About: Ginny has worked in Hospice in Wenatchee Valley for 25 years; 1985-2010. She served patients and families through direct patient care, program development, mentoring and education of new staff, and interim directors of both Home Health and Hospice. In 2010, along with physician Dr. Gail Feinman, started inpatient palliative care at Confluence Health in Wenatchee; eventually expanding the service to outpatient clinics and the community. Ginny provides consultation to patients either through MD referral or self referrals from patients and families. She strives to draw forth the patient’s story and understanding of their illness and situation, and then begin to tailor health care to the patient’s hopes and values, so as to provide the best possible care as the patient defines living well. She also is involved in providing education and mentorship of effective communication for healthcare providers throughout Confluence Health, and also provides community education centered on: How to Effectively Talk to Your Doctor, While Trying to Navigate the Complicated Maze of health care when you are serious and/or chronically ill.

Therese A Johnson

Representing: Individual
About: A psychotherapist in private practice on Mercer Island and in Wenatchee, Therese has worked in the field of end-of-life care, grief counseling and traumatic loss for 20 years. Coauthor and editor of When Professionals Weep: Emotional and Countertransference Reactions in End of Life Care by Katz and Johnson, 2006.

Joseph McCreery, MD

End of Life Washington Volunteer
Representing: Individual

Wendy McGoodwin, MD

Attending physician
The Everett Clinic/Providence Regional Medical Center Everett
Representing: Individual
About: Dr. McGoodwin is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine and has worked on the inpatient palliative care service for the past eight years (the first six years at Harborview Medical Center and the most recent two years at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett). Dr. McGoodwin has a particular interest in helping patients understand the role of advance directives and encouraging their use and expanding efforts to train the “front line” (i.e., primary care providers, nurses, etc.) in the palliative care skill set. In her clinical faculty role at the University of Washington Dr. McGoodwin has made it a priority to train future health care professionals (from the fields of medicine, nursing, social work, etc.) how to work with patients at the end of life. In her former life, before she became a physician, she ran a bioethics agency. Most of her work was directed at legislative campaigns to prevent genetic discrimination. Dr. McGoodwin helped draft legislation and testified before state legislatures and Congress.

Donna Oiland

Author, Lay Consultant
Representing: Individual
About: Donna worked in the field of organ and tissue donation as the director of the Lions Eye Bank, serving Washington, Northern Idaho and Alaska. Although committed to educating health care professionals and doing public education on the importance and benefits of donation, it was when her husband was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer her interest in improving end-of–life care became a passion. She has authored a book, "Legacy...Reflections Along the Way," that is being used to assist personal storytelling and promoting “dignity therapy” for hospice patients and their families. Donna presents educational workshops for Cancer Lifeline and EvergreenHealth and is a certified laugh leader with the World Laughter Tour. She is on the executive committee of the Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries and serves as a network coordinator for the Seattle/Eastside area.

Kathryn Schlenker, DO

Clinical Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, Palliative Care
University of Washington Medical Center
Representing: Individual
About: Dr. Schlenker is a full-time palliative care physician with the inpatient palliative care consultation service at the University of Washington Medical Center. She provides direct patient care, providing symptom management, support and guidance with complex medical decision-making for patients and families facing end-of-life decisions. She also provides end-of-life education throughout the hospital as well as support/debriefs for difficult cases. She acts as an educator for medical students, residents and fellows rotating on the palliative care service. She has also given talks regionally and nationally about palliative care and end-of-life topics.

Bruce C. Smith, MD, MACP

Medical Director, Providence Hospice of Seattle
(Immediate Past Chair)
Representing: Individual
About: In his practice career Dr. Smith provided primary care and specialty geriatrics for 20 years, then served as medical director for Group Health's hospice, palliative care and nursing home programs for five years. He is active in a variety of regional and national organizations representing geriatrics, end-of-life care, medical ethics, and health policy. He is currently the Medical Director of Providence Hospice of Seattle, the past chair of the steering committee of the Washington End-of-Life Coalition, co-chair of the Washington POLST Task Force, and serves on the Leadership Council of the National POLST Paradigm.

Deborah Swets

Representing: Individual

Hilary Walker, OT

ACP Program Coordinator
HCPNW Facilitator and Instructor
Representing: PeaceHealth
About: Hilary Walker has worked as a geriatric OT for over fifteen years, working mostly in acute care and ICU. She has seen many families and patients struggle, accept and let go into their own mortality and embrace the preciousness of life. She has been involved in Advance Care planning and end-of-life options in Washington state for the past six years, studying as a death doula, ACP facilitator, student and teacher. Currently, she has the honor and opportunity to be the first ACP program coordinator for PeaceHealth.

Hope Wechkin, MD

(Vice chair)
Medical Director
EvergreenHealth Hospice and Palliative Care 
Representing: EvergreenHealth
About: A family physician by training, Dr. Wechkin has served as the medical director of EvergreenHealth’s Hospice and Palliative Care programs since 2007. Having served as a physician consultant on the University of Washington Medical Center’s Palliative Care service and co-directed (with Stu Farber) the Palliative Care track of the Chronic Care clerkship at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Wechkin now serves as a guest lecturer in end-of-life care in the annual summer seminar in medical ethics that is held at the University of Washington School of Medicine. In her role as physician co-chair of EvergreenHealth’s Ethics Committee, Dr. Wechkin led EvergreenHealth’s successful efforts to retain the services of a professional ethicist and to form a joint ethics committee with Virginia Mason Medical Center. She has been an active member of Washington State’s Honoring Choices work group, and has worked with ACP (Angelo Volandes et al.) to increase access for EvergreenHealth patients and families to education regarding decisions at the end of life through video discussions.

Brendan Cox

WSMA CME Coordinator

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