Each year, the Symposium brings to you national leaders in palliative care whose presentations will inspire your work and ignite your research. Read on to learn about this year’s keynote speakers!
Breaking Down Barriers and Improving How We Die in America
Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, is a critical care physician and palliative care specialist who is helping to shape the national conversation around how we die in America and shining a light on healthcare disparities that can worsen the end-of-life experience for African American patients and families.
A Harvard and UC San Francisco-trained physician, Zitter is the author of the book, “Extreme Measures – Finding a Better Path to the End of Life,” and is featured in the Academy Award- and Emmy-nominated short subject documentary, “Extremis,” directed by filmmaker Dan Krauss.
The 24-minute film follows Dr. Zitter in her heart-wrenching work caring for patients nearing death in the ICU at Highland Hospital in Oakland. The film focuses on Zitter’s efforts to comfort, support, and guide patients and families through difficult decisions on when to withdraw treatment – especially when she knows that continuing life-sustaining efforts is likely to do more harm than good.
Zitter is also a prolific writer and regular contributor to The New York Times, which in June published “The Never-Ending Mistreatment of Black Patients,” a commentary in which Zitter cites several health disparities experienced by African Americans and how that impacts the care they receive at the end of life.
“There is a sadly ironic twist when it comes to disparities in dying,” Zitter writes. “Although African-Americans are deprived of proper treatment for much of their lives, at the end they suffer from too much of it. They are more likely than white people to die attached to machines, their deaths stretched out, their suffering prolonged.”
The Institute is thrilled to have Dr. Zitter as a keynote at this year’s Symposium.
Pioneering Palliative Care and Telehealth in Rural Communities
Michael Fratkin, MD, is a palliative care physician and telehealth innovator who in 2014 founded ResolutionCare, a community-based palliative care program that serves patients and families via videoconferencing technology and in-home visits in rural communities in Northern California.
Fratkin launched ResolutionCare through a crowdfunding initiative after years of working as a community-based primary care doctor in Humboldt County and as medical director of an inpatient palliative care program in a community hospital.
Over the years, Fratkin had become increasingly passionate about the power of palliative care and the need to make it more accessible to patients and families living in remote areas with limited access to healthcare and other supportive services.
Rural Americans face significant health disparities linked to environmental, socioeconomic, and geographic factors, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and other conditions than there urban or suburban counterparts.
ResolutionCare serves two purposes: to provide high quality in-home palliative care including pain and symptom management, care coordination, and spiritual and social support via videoconferencing and in-person visits; and to provide mentoring and support that can help clinicians replicate that model across the country.
“We are responding to exploding demand for severely limited Palliative Care services as people face mortality within a fragmented and transforming health care system,” Fratkin says on the ResolutionCare website. “ResolutionCare is a social enterprise that empowers Primary Care Providers and Patients with the confidence and skills to manage symptoms, guide shared choice making, and anchor care coordination in the Primary Care practice.”
Fratkin is a nationally recognized expert in palliative care and telemedicine whose work has been highlighted by NPR, The Washington Post, and other national media. His 2012 TED Talk on palliative care has been viewed nearly 19,000 times.
The Institute is thrilled to have Dr. Fratkin as a keynote at this year’s Symposium.
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DATES: October 8-9, 2020
ATTENDEES: Faculty From Universities Nationwide
LOCATION: Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, Bay Tower
TRAVEL AND LODGING DETAILS: Learn more here
CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS & CME: TBD