Washington End-of-Life Coalition

WEOLC logoThe WSMA created the Washington End-of-Life Coalition in June 1997 with an agreement among participating parties on a vision for end-of-life care and a set of goals to realize this vision. The coalition works to ensure that it is responding to short-range needs in care for the dying while allowing its long-range work to evolve, as end-of-life care itself evolves. Membership to the coalition is free. Email Graham Short, gfs@wsma.org, to join.

2017 Annual Meeting
Optimizing End of Life for Everyone: Exploring Biases in Health Care
Featuring Michele Andrasik, PhD

Friday, Nov. 17, 8 a.m.–3:15 p.m.
Seattle Airport Marriott

Online registration ends midnight, Wednesday, Nov. 15. Walk-in registration will be available.

What is implicit bias and how does it impact our attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and behaviors as caregivers? And what can we do to reduce its impact?

These questions and more will be explored at the 2017 Washington End-of-Life Coalition Annual Meeting on Friday, Nov. 17 in Seattle. Our featured presenter is Dr. Michele Andrasik, lead behavioral scientist for the Fred Hutchinson-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network, and our theme is Optimizing End of Life for Everyone: Exploring Biases in Health Care. Dr. Andrasik will help lead attendees in a discussion on implicit bias and how it impacts our work as caregivers and care receivers. The meeting will also feature other perspectives on cultural humility in end-of-life care.

The coalition’s annual meeting traditionally provides an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues who share an interest in palliative, geriatric, spiritual and other end-of-life issues. The meeting begins at 8 a.m. and adjourns at 3:15 p.m. Lunch is provided.



8 a.m.
8:30 a.m.
9:15 a.m.
"Medicine Wheel" Margarita Suarez, MA, RN
9:45 a.m.
Break & exhibitor visit
10 a.m.
Optimizing End of Life for Everyone: Exploring Biases in Health Care – Michele Andrasik, PhD
11 a.m.
The Privilege Walk – Michele Andrasik, PhD
11:45 a.m.
Lunch and exhibitor visit
12:45 p.m.
Scenarios for Table Discussions – Michele Andrasik, PhD
1:30 p.m.
Insights on Establishing an Hispanic Outreach Program in End-of-Life Work – Gary Castillo
2:30 p.m.
Break & exhibitor visit
2:45 p.m.
25 years of POLST in Action: Resources for Professionals and 2017 Updates – Bruce Smith, MD & Sharmon Figenshaw, RN, ARNP, ACHPN
3:10 p.m.
Closing remarks
3:15 p.m.

Featured presentations

Optimizing End of Life for Everyone: Exploring Biases
in Health Care
Presented by Michele Andrasik, PhD

In her keynote presentation, Dr. Andrasik will lead attendees in an exploration of implicit bias and how it impacts our work as caregivers and care receivers. In her discussion, she’ll address the following questions:
  • What is implicit bias and how does it impact our attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and behaviors as caregivers?
  • What evidence do we have that bias impacts health and well-being?
  • How does individual implicit bias impact institutional/organizational bias?
  • And what are we able to do to reduce the impact of bias?
Dr. Andrasik is a clinical health psychologist. She is the lead behavioral scientist for the Fred Hutchinson-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network, senior staff scientist in the Fred Hutchinson Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division and an affiliate assistant professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. Dr. Andrasik received her PhD in clinical health psychology from the University of Miami where her work focused on assessing and addressing barriers to access to care and treatment among low income African American HIV-positive and HPV-positive women. She also has masters degrees in health education and psychological counseling from Columbia University.

Medicine Wheel – Self-Awareness Exercise
Presented by Margarita Suarez, MA, RN

Counselor and trainer Margarita will introduce attendees to "the Medicine Wheel," a way of looking at differences in working styles that comes to us from the Lakota people. Building understanding of these differences helps the working relationships we have with others and helps us to experience diversity as a strength rather than an impediment. Margarita is a private practice consultant/trainer, focusing on cultural understanding, organizational development and change, communication, teamwork, grief and trauma, and self-care.

Insights on Establishing an Hispanic Outreach Program
in End of Life Work
Presented by Gary Castillo

Gary, the executive director of Chaplaincy Health Care based out of the Tri-Cities area, will share with attendees his experience establishing an Hispanic end-of-life outreach program in Washington. Gary is also the board chair of the Washington State Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

25 years of POLST in Action: Resources for Professionals and 2017 Updates
Presented by Bruce Smith, MD & Sharmon Figenshaw, RN, ARNP, ACHPN

Dr. Smith and Sharmon, co-chairs of the Washington POLST Task Force, will provide meeting attendees with an overview of recent revisions to the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form, as well as news from the National POLST Paradigm and more.

Special sessions

The meeting also features two special non-didactic sessions:
  • “The Privilege Walk,” a special exercise exploring privilege led by Dr. Andrasik.
  • Scenarios for table discussions, which will allow for smaller group interactions, facilitated by Dr. Andrasik.
Continuing education

The 2017 WEOLC Annual Meeting is not an accredited meeting—you may check with your licensing board to see if it qualifies for self-claimed credit.


Registration fee: $85 early-bird rate (register before midnight, Nov. 3); $95 after Nov. 3 and for walk-ins. Registration fee includes continental breakfast and lunch.

Register online or download a meeting flyer with fax registration form.

Online and paper registration closes at midnight, Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Help us spread the word

Help us get the word out about this exciting opportunity to explore bias and cultural diversity in end-of-life care. Download the meeting flyer with fax registration form and consider distributing or posting.

Exhibit at the meeting

The fee for exhibitors is $200 and will include: one 6' skirted table (fabric draping), two chairs and one company representative name badge. If you or your organization is interested in exhibiting at the WEOLC Annual Meeting, download an application form and submit with payment. The exhibit fee includes meeting registration fee for one exhibit manager. If other company representatives aside from the exhibit manager would like to attend the meeting, they'll need to register separately and pay the general registration fee.

Applications can be submitted via email to gfs@wsma.org, by fax to 206.441.5863 Attn: Graham, or by mail to WSMA, 2001 6th Ave, Suite 2700, Seattle, WA 98121.

Booth assignments will be determined by the event organizers. Cancellations received on or after Nov. 13 will be charged a $25 service fee. The deadline for exhibitor applications is Monday, Nov. 13. Exhibitor space is limited, so apply today.

If you have any questions about exhibiting at the meeting, contact Graham Short at 800.551.0612 or gfs@wsma.org.

Become a meeting sponsor

In order to keep our registration fees affordable, we are looking for some partners in offering the the 2017 WEOLC Annual Meeting. If you and/or your organization would like to help us make this meeting possible, contact Graham Short at 800.551.0612 or gfs@wsma.org.

Sponsorship Acknowledgement
$250 Bronze Sponsor Name acknowledgement in meeting program and on presentation slide, name acknowledged on the WEOLC webpage for six months, verbal acknowledgement at the meeting and one free registration.
$500 Silver Sponsor Name acknowledgement in meeting program and on presentation slide, logo on the WEOLC webpage for six months, sponsor for the Annual Meeting breakfast and verbal acknowledgement at the meeting and one free registration.
$1000 Gold Sponsor Name acknowledgement in meeting program and on presentation slide, logo acknowledgement in meeting program, logo on the WEOLC website for six months, verbal acknowledgement at the meeting, opportunity to introduce keynote speaker and one free registration.

Thank you to our sponsors

The Washington End-of-Life Coalition would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous contributions to the 2017 annual meeting.

Bronze sponsors:


Online Registration

Or download a meeting flyer with fax registration form.  

Date and Time
Friday, Nov. 17, 2017
: 8 a.m.
Adjourn: 3:15 p.m.

Event Location
Seattle Airport Marriott
3201 S. 176th St
Seattle, WA 98188
(206) 241-2000

Registration - $95

Contact Abby at the WSMA front office at
(206) 441-9762 or
(800) 552-0612 or  abby@wsma.org

More news from the WEOLC

To receive Coalition information, contact Graham Short at gfs@wsma.org, or (206) 956-3633.

About us

The Washington End-of-Life Coalition was formed June 1997. While acknowledging that effecting change in our families, communities and health care institutions will require long-term vision and effort, the Coalition believes that efforts both immediate and long range need to be brought to bear to significantly improve care for the dying. The Coalition will annually revisit its goals and its work toward them to ensure that it is responding to short-range needs in care for the dying while allowing its long-range work to evolve, as end-of-life care itself evolves.

Membership of the WEOLC is a broad-based cross-section of individuals and organizations across the state interested in bettering end-of-life care. Coalition members meet once a year at the WEOLC annual meeting, usually in the fall. The steering committee of the WEOLC meets quarterly to guide the Coalition's efforts.

Vision and Mission Statement

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 Graham Short at gfs@wsma.org, or (206) 956-3633 and ask to join. It's as simple as that.

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

Astria Regional Medical
Representing: Astria Regional Medical
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.

Sharmon Figenshaw RN, ARNP, ACHPN

Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
SAGE Guidance: Senior/Family Care Consulting
: Individual
About: Sharmon has been a clinician in hospice and palliative care for over 25 years. She worked in hospice care for 15 years, then got her Master’s in Nursing and has worked with hospital-based palliative care consult teams since 2007. Sharmon lives in Bellingham where she now does private consulting for families, engages in community conversations around end-of-life and aging, and works per diem with Whatcom Hospice and the Palliative Consult Service at Skagit Valley Hospital. She and her husband Peter enjoy skiing and boating. Sharmon has been part of the WEOLC since 1999, serving as chair from 2008-10. She currently co-chairs the Washington POLST Task Force.

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 EOL 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.

Therese A Johnson

(Immediate Past Chair)

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

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” (ie, 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.

Sally McLaughlin

Executive Director
End of Life Washington
Representing: EOL Washington
About: When Sally retired from independent school education in 2014, she decided to immerse herself in end-of-life services, an area of endeavor that had long been a passion. She perused training in hospice volunteer work with Providence in Seattle, Evergreen Hospice in Kirkland and the NODA program with Harborview Hospital. She also trained as a facilitator with “Heartworks” – an organization that educates groups on end of life choices and advance directive documents. When she became aware of the good work being done by then Compassion & Choices of Washington (now End of Life Washington), she trained to be one of their volunteer client advisors. She assumed the duties of the first ever community education director for End of Life Washington in February of 2014, became the interim executive director in December of 2015 and the executive director in March of 2016. .

Donna Oiland

Dept of Spiritual Care
Evergreen Healthcare
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 healthcare 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 Evergreen Healthcare 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, resident, and fellows rotating on the palliative are service. She has also given talks regionally and nationally about palliative care and end-of-life topics.

Bruce C. Smith, MD

Executive Medical Director
Regence BlueShield
WSMA member
Representing: Individual
About: Dr. Smith is the executive medical director at Regence BlueShield. 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 the chair of the steering committee of the Washington End-of-Life Coalition, co-chair of the Washington POLST Task Force, and serves as the Washington state representative to the National POLST Task Force.

Deborah Swets

(Vice chair)
Representing: Individual

Hope Wechkin, MD

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 Evergreen’s Ethics Committee, Dr. Wechkin led Evergreen’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 workgroup, and has worked with ACP (Angelo Volandes et al) to increase access for Evergreen patients and families to education regarding decisions at the end of life through video discussions. .

Graham Short