Skip to main content
Top of the Page
Physician comforting a patient
A broad-based group of individuals and organizations dedicated to helping patients, clinicians, and caregivers improve the way we prepare for and treat serious illness.

Washington Serious Illness Care Coalition

The Washington Serious Illness Care Coalition (previously known as the Washington End-of-Life Coalition) is a broad-based group of individuals and organizations from across the state dedicated to helping patients, physicians, clinicians, and caregivers improve the way we discuss, prepare for, and treat serious illness.


Washington Serious Illness Care Coalition logo

WSICC Vision, Mission, and Values

Vision

All people with serious illness will receive care before and after death that reflects their needs, values, and preferences.

Mission

Promote education and conversations about living and dying in Washington state.

Beliefs

  • Collaborative relationships between professionals and the public foster inclusive education, communication, and connection regarding serious illness, end-of-life, and after-death issues.
  • Diverse coalitions improve people's experiences with serious illness—before, during, and after the end of life.
  • Systemic change is necessary to ensure that people of every background, culture, and identity have their needs met and their wishes explored and honored.

WSICC 2024-2025 Strategic Plan

Goal one: Serve as a convener for professionals and the public.

  • Objective one: Cultivate inclusion and equity by seeking representation and diversity in all our activities.
  • Objective two: Create convening opportunities and education regarding advance care planning.

Goal two: Develop and support a sustainable and financially viable Washington POLST program.

  • Objective one: Work with current stakeholders to design the POLST program.
  • Objective two: Promote education and advocacy regarding POLST.

Goal three: Participate in state and national conversations.

  • Objective one: Inform the policy work of the Washington State Hospital Association and the Washington State Medical Association.
  • Objective two: Provide thought leadership and advocacy to address topics concerning Serious Illness.

Join the WSICC

To join, email Brendan Cox at brendan@wsma.org. There are no annual dues. Members will receive the WSICC information via email and will be invited to participate in the annual meeting, typically in the fall.

WSICC Steering Committee

Mark Beiter, DO
Virginia Mason
Representing: Virginia Mason
About: Mark is a Palliative Care physician and Medical Director of the Palliative Care team at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. He works in an outpatient Palliative Care clinic, focused on cancer patients as well as other people living with serious illness. Mark is also an educator and believes in training other providers to have the tools necessary to make sure all patients with serious illness receive the best care possible. He leads a variety of communication trainings including Vital Talk, and the Serious Illness Communication Guide. Mark resides in North Seattle with his wife, two children and two crazy dogs.

Devyani Chandran, PhD
Director, Palliative Care Institute
Representing: Western Washington University
About: Dr. Devyani Chandran is currently the Director for Western Washington University’s Palliative Care Institute. The Institute seeks to improve care for those with serious or terminal illness - mounting projects with other partners focused on provider training and community education and activation to demonstrate how ‘palliative care’ can improve quality of life, both physically and also in mind and spirit, helping patients live as actively as possible until death and ease their dying process when that time arrives. She is an Associate Professor in the Human Services Program housed in the Department of Health and Community Studies in Western Washington University and the Director of the Palliative Care Institute. Dr. Chandran received her PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Kansas. Her doctoral dissertation explored the experiences of older adults living with HIV/AIDS. She currently teaches courses on Aging and health, interpersonal and small group systems and diversity and social justice dynamics. Dr. Chandran’s research focuses on community-based approaches to chronic illness, aging, end of life and palliative care. Her research findings have been published in Social Work and Health Care, Journal of Palliative and End of Life Care, Social Work Education, and AIDS and Behavior.

Sharmon Figenshaw, RN, ARNP
Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest
Representing: Individual
About: Sharmon Figenshaw is a board-certified nurse practitioner, with 30 years of experience in hospice and palliative medicine, providing compassionate support to people and their trusted companions in the midst of serious illness. In addition to over 20 years on the WSICC, she serves as a clinical consultant for the Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest POLST/Serious Illness Clinical Skills program aimed at improving how we care for people with serious illness in Washington state. By strengthening communication skills among clinicians and teaching the proper use of POLST to guide care, she hopes to ensure that each person will receive care that honors their goals and values—and have the opportunity to shape their own ending. She enjoys seeing patients as a relief nurse practitioner for the Okanogan Palliative Care Initiative, a service of Family Health Centers in Okanogan County, and lives in the Methow with her husband enjoying the best of Washington’s ski and hiking trails.

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 serves 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 health care 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.

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 palliative care physician and the associate medical director of the inpatient palliative care consultation service at the University of Washington Medical Center Montlake. She provides direct patient care, including symptom management, support, and guidance with complex medical decision-making for patients and families facing serious illness. 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. She has also given talks regionally and nationally about palliative care and end-of-life topics.

Bruce C. Smith, MD, MACP
Representing: Individual
About: Now retired, in his practice career Dr. Smith provided primary care and specialty geriatrics for many years. He later served as medical director for Group Health's hospice, palliative care and nursing home programs and as the medical director for Providence Hospice of King and Pierce counties among other roles. He is active in a variety of regional and national organizations representing geriatrics, end-of-life care, medical ethics, and health policy. He is a past chair of the steering committee of the Washington End-of-Life Coalition (now the WSICC) and serves as co-chair of the Washington POLST Task Force.

Cassandra Sutherland, MPH
Client Services Manager, End of Life Washington
Representing: End of Life Washington

Hilary Walker, OTL
ACP Program Coordinator
HCPNW Facilitator and Instructor
Representing: PeaceHealth
About: Hilary Walker started her medical career as a geriatric OT. For over fifteen years she worked mostly in acute care and ICU with some time in Skilled nursing and Home Health. She has been involved in advance care planning and end-of-life options in Washington state for the past 10 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 where she has helped create a robust system-wide interdisciplinary program.

Hope Wechkin, MD (Chair)
Medical Director
EvergreenHealth Hospice and Palliative Care
Representing: EvergreenHealth
About: Dr. Hope Wechkin is the medical director of EvergreenHealth Home Care Services (Hospice and Home Health) in Kirkland, WA. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale College and from the University of Washington School of Medicine. A family physician by training, she has devoted herself full-time to the practice of Hospice and Palliative Medicine since 2007, and is board certified by the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She has served on the medical staff of the Palliative Care Consult Service at the University of Washington Medical Center, developed and led the EvergreenHealth Palliative Medicine program from 2007-2021, and is a member of the clinical faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine. Recipient of EvergreenHealth’s Physician Leadership and Innovation Award in 2014 and honored as one of Seattle Magazine’s and Seattle Met’s “Top Docs” on multiple occasions, Dr. Wechkin served as chair of the Washington State Medical Association’s Serious Illness Care Coalition from 2020-2023, served as course chair for the first-ever national conference on “planned death” at the University of Washington in 2019, and is lead author on the first national clinical guidelines for voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) published in 2023. She is a sought-after speaker locally and nationally on a range of topics in hospice and palliative medicine.

Lashanna Williams
Owner / Executive Director
Antares Wellness / A Sacred Passing
Representing: Antares Wellness / A Sacred Passing
About: Lashanna (she/her) is, at her core, a helper; a doula and massage therapist who merges formal education, ancestral knowledge, life experience, and all six senses to guide her care. She serves individuals, families, intentional communities, and small businesses with end-of-life education and planning, body care education, home wake celebrations, and creating legacy pieces. She has a never-diminishing desire to grow community care through education and collaboration; to fully support autonomy and choice through abortion, death, and dying. Lashanna is a member of multiple organizations that focus on end-of-life issues. Her goal as a community deathcare educator is to grow anti-racist spaces and practitioners deathcare and education.

Brendan Cox
WSMA CME Coordinator
(staff)

Join or renew your membership today!