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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 2021-2022 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: Provide convening opportunities and experiences

Goal two: Promote education, conversations, and planning across all settings.

  • Objective one: Serve as the home of the Washington Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Program.
  • Objective two: Raise awareness of and serve as a conduit for resources.

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 address challenging topics.

Recognizing Inequities in Serious Illness and End-of-Life Care - April 29, 2022

Physicians, health care professionals, and members of the public join together for a webinar on enhancing communication and connection about serious illness, end-of-life, and after-death issues—presented by the Washington Serious Illness Care Coalition.

Hope Wechkin, MD, FAAHPM, HMDC—WSICC chair and medical director of EvergreenHealth Hospice— re-introduces the coalition and its new mission, vision, values, and strategic goals.

Keynote speaker, Edwin Lindo, JD—assistant dean for social and health justice in the Office of Healthcare Equity and faculty member within the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine—explores our biases and identify ways racism impacts the care patients receive. You will develop tools to advocate for people from marginalized communities, provide culturally sensitive care that honors people’s values and beliefs, and deliver high quality, compassionate care during serious illness and at the end of life.

We close the webinar with a panel of physicians, health care professionals, and advocates who share their unique expertise and discuss how to ensure that people of every background, culture, and identity can have their needs met and their wishes explored and honored.

Panelists

  • Mabel Bodell, MD, Nephrologist/Transplant Nephrologist, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine/University of Washington; Medical Director, Acute Dialysis Unit, Confluence Health, Wenatchee 
  • Raleigh Bowden, MD, Director, Okanogan Palliative Care Initiative; Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, 2019-2022
  • Eze Oluo, Projects Manager, Permanente Medicine; Member, BIPOC Health Careers Ecosystem
  • Moderator: Devyani Chandran, PhD, Director, Palliative Care Institute; Associate Professor, Health and Community Studies, Western Washington University

(Originally recorded April 29, 2022)

Click here to view the webinar.



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

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 of experience in hospice and palliative medicine, providing compassionate support to people and their trusted companions in the midst of serious illness. She serves as a clinical consultant for Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, specifically the 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 continues in clinical practice as a relief nurse practitioner for the Okanogan Palliative Care Initiative, a service of Family Health Centers in Okanogan County.

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.

Jessica Martinson, MS
Director of Continuing Professional Development
Washington State Medical Association and WSMA Foundation for Health Care Improvement
ACP Consultant, Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest
Representing: WSMA Foundation for Health Care Improvement
About: Jessica designs and leads statewide initiatives to address health equity, end-of-life care and advance care planning, physician burnout, shared decision-making, and the opioid epidemic. As an ACP Consultant for Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, she supports health care organizations to deliver patient-centered advance care planning services. She also oversees WSMA’s leadership development program, quality improvement program, and the Medical Officer Collaborative.

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
Medical Director, Providence
Hospice of Seattle 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 Serious Illness Care Coalition, co-chair of the Washington POLST Task Force, and serves on the Leadership Council of the National POLST Paradigm.

Deborah Swets
(Immediate Past Chair)
Representing: Individual
Deborah is retired from the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), where she served as the vice president of membership, coordinating services to hospital and health system members, organizing the WSHA Annual Meeting and other major events, and developing educational programs for members of hospital and health system governing boards. Her career focused on the civic, non-profit and government arenas. She was the executive director of Seattle CityClub for many years and coordinator for the Washington State Centennial in King County. Earlier she worked with the National Conference of State Legislatures (Denver based) and in public and congressional affairs in Washington, D.C. Deborah also serves on the advisory board for LifeCenter Northwest and on University of Washington Medical Center's (UWMC) Patient and Family Centered Care Program's steering committee and the UWMC quality of care committee. She is a past board member of Book-It Repertory Theatre. Her commitment to end of life work comes from deeply affecting personal experiences: her father died after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer's, her mother is currently contending with Alzheimer's and her late husband had a five-year journey with Hepatitis C and a liver transplant, before dying in 2006.

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 (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, MD) 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.

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)

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