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Hemlock Society Right-to-Die Video Library

Click the closed caption button closed caption to see captions.

May 19, 2019-Home Care and Home Health Care

What are the differences? Who are they? What does it cost? How do you find them? Who pays for them?


Cindy Wilson - Director of Senior Services, Heritage Senior Care
Jennifer Durrant - Nursing Director, Integrated MD Care
Lori Cooper, RN - Silverado Hospice


March 17, 2019- Heart Failure and End-of-Life Choices

Heart failure is the #1 cause of death in America. All of cancers put tobether do not equal the mortality of congestive heart failure. If you are over the age of 60 you have a 10-15% chance that at some point in your life you are going to have congestive heart failure. Medicare costs for heart failure are in the billions of dollars every year. 40-50% of all patients discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days because of the recurrence of symptoms of congestive heart failure. This program discussed heart failure, treatment, and how one can make end-of-life decisions for end-stage heart failure.

Harris Effron, M.D., retired cardiologist
Lisa Heikoff, M.D.
, hospice/palliative care; and
James Sinclair, M.D., oncologist/palliative care physician


Jan. 20, 2019-End of Life Helpers: Death Doulas, Geriatric Care Managers & Patient Advocates

Providing services to patients and families at the end of life is a growing industry. We present representatives of these three services so you can better understand what they do, who they are, and where to find them. None of these are home care workers, a group we will discuss at a later meeting.

Jeanne Marie Bredestege, Certified Thanatologist
Rebecca Montano, Ph.D., CRC, CMC, CCM. President of the Western Regional Chapter of the Aging for Life Association (formerly National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers)
Lisa Berry Blackstock, Patient Healthcare Advocate, Owner, Soul Sherpa (R) Healthcare Advocacy


November 18, 2018 - Preparing for Dementia and Avoiding Medically Futile Care

Speaker: Thad Mason Pope, J.D., Ph.D.

Professor Pope is a world renowned expert on many areas of health law including advance directives and medical futility. In more than 130 publications he uses the law both to improve medical decision making and to protect patient rights at the end of life. Here he discusses right to die options and limitations for persons suffering from Dementia. He emphasizes Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED).


September 16, 2018 - Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)

Speaker: Dr. Bob Uslander

Dying Wish, the award winning 20-minute documentary was shown. It chronicles the journey of an eighty-year old retired surgeon with end-stage cancer, on hospice, who chooses to stop eating and drinking with the support of his friend and fellow physician.


Dying in the Americas 2018 - March 22-24, 2018
Final Exit Network - Speaker: Maia Calloway

May 20, 2018 - How to Receive Medical Aid in Dying in California: A Step-by-Step Explanation
Speakers: Dr. Bob Uslander, a physician in private practice, director of Integrated MD Care, a group that works with people at the end of life. He has helped many people through the End of Life Option Act showing that Medical Aid in Dying can be peaceful and uncomplicated.

Elizabeth Semenova, MSW, MTS - works with Dr. Bob and will be a co-presenter.

Jill Lloyd, an Orange County resident, who saw her good friend with pancreatic cancer, through the experience of using the End of Life Option Act with Kaiser.

Below is a video of the "rally" held after our May 20th meeting. Debbie Ziegler, mother of Brittany Maynard, spoke, urging us to remain strong, calm and purposeful in the face of the End of Life Option Act possibly being invalidated. Family members/friends of patients who have taken advantage of the End of Life Option Act spoke of the peaceful deaths their friends/family member experienced taking advantage of the laws.

March 22-24, 2018
Videos from Dying in the Americas 2018
Final Exit Network Conference in Henderson, NV

The Experience of Alzheimers (17 mins.)

A detailed case history of Alzheimer's disease from early symptoms to death. Bad medical diagnosis, excessive cost, stress on loved ones.

Challenges and Achievements in Canada (14 mins)

Shanaaz Gokool, the CEO of Death with Dignity Canada, describes activism, challenges, and achievements in Canada.

Hastening Death by Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) (36 mins.)

Thaddeus Pope is a legal authority on right-to-die issues. In this lecture he emphasizes Cessation of Eating and Drinking as an important, often under-appreciated option.

The Intersection of Religion and End of Life Care

Two Protestant preachers discuss what religion has to say, or contribute, to right-to-die issues. In particular, the Christian bibles have little to say.


January 21, 2018 Refusal of Treatment and How Best to Die with Dementia

Amy Abrams, MSW, MPH, Education & Outreach Manager, Alzheimer's San Diego
Lisa Heikoff, M.D., geriatrician, Kaiser Permanente, Community Advisory Board of Alzheimer's San Diego
Hannah Wilder, Episcopal priest, in training. Her mother-in-law has advanced dementia.
Bob Uslander, M.D., Medical Director and Founder, Integrated MD Care.

This program on end-of-life options for those with Alzheimer's or dementia talks about the importance of advance directives, POLST and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) forms. We learn most surgeons won't allow DNR during the peri-operative period.

Hanna Wilder relates a heart-wrenching story about her mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer's. The story tells how the daughter (healthcare proxy) was pressured (guilt tripped) by a surgeon to perform a surgery the daughter was reluctant to approve of due to her mother's advance care directive. It illustrates how easily health care proxies can be pressured by the medical establishment to go against their instinct to say no.

Lisa Heikoff, M.D., geriatrician, stresses the importance of disclosing an Alzheimer's diagnosis in the early stages. She relates the surprising and major life change her brother-in-law made in the face of his early Alzheimer's diagnosis. She advises us that all of our local healthcare facilities are required to have bioethics committees. You can request a consultation if you are uncomfortable with a provider's recommendation. She also answers a question regarding decisional capacity. There are different levels depending on the complexity of the issue. She advises when there are questions about a person's decisional capacity after a diagnosis has been established, prior to them signing an important document, you should have them evaluated by an experienced neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist; one who has experience in determining decisional capacity. She also reminds us that institutions are required by regulations to feed a patient; making the Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) method difficult to pull off if one is in an institution and cannot remember things.

Amy Abrams, MSW, MPH, tells us about the many educational programs the San Diego Alzheimer's Association has for patients and caregivers; and the distressing fact that approximately 50% of Alzheimer's patients have anosognosia, which is a complete unawareness of their illness.

Dr. Bob Uslander reminds us that we have the right to refuse medical treatment and relates a strategy to avoid unwanted trips to the emergency room when an elderly person is reaching the end-of-life stage.


Sept. 17, 2017-What To do With the Body

We learned about options for using your body for good after you die, including tissue and organ donation, as well as body donation to universities for use by medical students to practice operations. Also discussed were ways to save money on funeral costs and the many ways ashes from cremation can be incorporated into everyday items, including jewelry and even paint.
John Nugent,
President, San Diego Memorial Society. Introduced by Angel Kearney, Lifesahring Outreach Coordinator
Scott Barton
, Director, Anatomical Services, UC San Diego School of Medicine-Division of Medical Education
Keith Larson, Director of Tissue Outreach - UC San Diego Lifesharing, Organ and Tissue Donation Organization
Deanne M. Rugani-Osuna, Funeral Director and Embalmer for Service Corporation International/Dignity.


Sept. 16, 2017-Dying in the Age of Choice - presented to the San Diego Independent Scholars by Faye Girsh


July 16, 2017-California End of Life Option Act - One Year Later

Dr. Bob Uslander, MD. Dr. Bob is dedicated to helping people live with joy, and without fear and struggle, at any stage of life and especially in the face of challenging or terminal illness.
Dr. Karl Steinberg
, M.D., Medical Director, Hospice by the Sea


July 10, 2017 - California End of Life Option Act Panel Discussion
Speakers: Dr. Bob Uslander, Integrated MD care
Faye Girsh,
President, Hemlock Society of San Diego
Bill Simmons
, California attorney


May 21, 2017 - Cannabis and End-of-Life Care

With Prop 64, which makes cannabis for recreational use legal for adults in California, coming online in 2018, it will be even more important than ever that people who wish to use cannabis medicinally are armed with accurate & responsible information.
Speakers: Robbin Lynn, MBA, CCS is a Certified Cannabis Specialist (CCS) and an active member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. She helps people realize the full benefits of this plant as a means to achieving relief and living a pharmaceutical free lifestyle.
Lydia Lombardi Good, LCSW, BCD. Chair, San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care


Since 2015 we have been recording our meetings at the Scottish Rite Center, thanks to Ken Watson. They have been informative and interesting. Some people would like to see them again, some who didn't know about them can see them now, and some who couldn't get there can now enjoy the meeting. This applies to folks not just in the San Diego community but to anyone in the world. We want to continue disseminating information about achieving a peaceful death.

Please consider making a donation to the Hemlock Society of San Diego so we can be the unique source of information you should have.

Use Pay Pal (below)

or send a check to HSSD at PO Box 34237, San Diego CA 92163-4237.

Include the Hemlock Society of San Diego in your Will or Living Trust. Our tax ID # is: 33-0467982 .

Thank you!


March 19, 2017 - What If Your Heart Stops?
Speaker: Dr. James Dunford, Jr., MD, City of San Diego EMS Medical Director Dr. Dunford spoke about CardioPulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), how often it is successful, how many people think they have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order but they don't and who should have one and how you get it.

Video no longer available.

January 17, 2017 - Brittany Maynard's Mom Talks About her Daughter's Life and Chosen Death
Brittany Maynard, with her courageous act of publicizing her choice to move to Oregon to take advantage of their Death with Dignity law, was instrumental in gaining public support for the California End of Life Option Act. Brittany's mother, Deborah Ziegler, talks about her daughter and the experience of being a mother forced to confront the impending death of her daughter.


November 20, 2016 Hemlock Society Meeting - Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) as a way to Hasten Death

Speaker: Mitsuo Tomita, M.D. Mits is long-time member of the Hemlock Society of San Diego and a physician retired from Kaiser . Dr. Tomita shared with us some of the findings from the first (as far as we know) conference ever held on VSED (vee-sed). It was mentioned in the talk that VSED can sometimes be faster (usually 6-13 days) than using the law when you consider the time spent trying to find willing doctors and waiting the required waiting times.

We apologize that the video of this talk is not available due to technical issues. Click this link to see a .pdf file of the slide presentation.
Here are a few websites related to VSED: Thaddeus Pope's page with court case links.

Phyllis Shachter's husband used VSED. She has a excellent website on choice in dying.

Voluntary Death by Dehydration Q&A


September 18, 2016 Hemlock Society Meeting - Canada's New Assisted Dying Law More Advanced Than the U.S

Speaker: Dr. Derryck Smith, Past President of the BC Medical Association and a past board member of the Canadian Medical Association. Dr. Smith is a Clinical Professor Emeritus with the Department of Psychiatry and is active in clinical teaching of medical students and residents. He is a past president of the Medical Legal Society and was Chair of the Board for the Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services Society and is a Dying With Dignity Canada Board Member.
Canada has an assisted dying law for the entire country, which may include voluntary euthanasia rather than just self-administration; and, may extend its provisions to people not just terminally ill.


July 17, 2016 Hemlock Society Meeting - Stroke and End-of-Life Care*

Stroke is in the top 5 most common causes of death in the U.S. Many persons have a range of disabilities following a stroke. Learn about strokes and how they effect people, and the importance of quick treatment after a stroke. Advance Directives are particularly important in case of stroke, due to the sudden event.

Branko Huisa, M.D., Neurologist, UCSD Stroke Centers
James Sinclair, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Vitas Innovative Hospice Care.



May 17, 2016 Hemlock Society Meeting - If You Don't Qualify For The End Of Life Option Act What Then? *

Sally Hall, M.D., exit guide and member of the medical advisory committee of The Final Exit Network (FEN), provided information on the Final Exit Network, what it does, who is eligible, and the recommended procedures. She talks about dementia, depression and electroshock therapy.

Bob Uslander, M.D, a holistic hospice and palliative care doctor and patient advocate talks about hospice, the limitations of hospice, voluntary stopping eating and drinking (VSED) and terminal sedation. He explains his unique medical care management practice.

Both speakers talk about the drawbacks of living in institutions at the end of life.


March, 2016 Hemlock Society Meeting - Memory Care Units, Advanced Directives, End of Life

Linda Cho, Executive Director, Stellar Care at Collwood Terrace
Amy Abrams, MSW, MPH, Education & Outreach Manager for Alzheimer's San Diego (they recently broke off from the national Alzheimer's Association)
Anne Barber, MSW, social worker at Silverado Hospice, she's worked in hospice and long-term care.

Discussion of the importance of advance directives, discussion of the provisions of it with your family and whether a memory care unit will honor those wishes and what the units are legally required to do. Dr. Stanley Terman also spoke about his Living Will.


January, 2016 Hemlock Society Meeting - Physician Aid in Dying: How It Works in Washington and How it will work in San Diego *

Robb Miller, End of Life Washington Executive Director for 15 years
Stefanie Elkins, Medical Outreach Director Compassion & Choices

Washington State's Death with Dignity Law and how it works was discussed with Robb Miller, former Executive Director of End of Life Washington (formerly Compassion and Choices) and Stefanie Elkins, California Medical Outreach Director.

The California End of Life Option Act is similar to the Washington law, but there are some differences. Under both laws, a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live is a requirement for eligibility, leaving many people unable to take advantage of this law.

Many people with terminal illnesses wait until they are in hospice and quite near the end of their lives before discussing aid in dying with their physician. Because of the legal built-in required waiting periods between requests for aid-in-dying, many people do not allow enough time to complete the process to obtain life-ending medication. For those interested in this option, it is recommended to start the process as soon as a terminal diagnosis is received. You are not required to take the medication, you can change your mind at any time. Having the medication gives many people peace of mind.

All aid in dying laws require the patient to self-administer the life ending medication and require a defined legal process. A physician is required. Physicians (and institutions) are permitted to opt-out of the process if they desire; finding resources can be problematic. As Robb succinctly pointed out, euthanasia (where someone delivers life ending medication TO you) is only available in the United States for those who don't want it - those sentenced to capital punishment. Robb also notes that since Washington's law passed in 1998, there has not been one instance of coercion reported, but many people have been coerced into staying alive.


Nov., 2015 Hemlock Society Meeting
Implementing the End-of-Life Options LAW
There were two main topics: HOW DOES IT WORK IN OREGON? George Eighmey, lawyer, former legislator and director of the Oregon Compassion & Choices program for the first 12 years of its existence discussed how doctors are recruited, family involvement, the role of volunteers, hospice’s attitude, and the now exorbitant price of medications. George is Vice President of DDNC (Death with Dignity National Center)
WHAT WILL HOSPICE DO UNDER THE LAW? Dr. Glenn Panzer is Chief Medical Officer of Elizabeth Hospice with which he has been associated for 13 years. He specializes in geriatric medicine and palliative care. He discussed what he sees as the hospice role in the new law.

Part 2, the Q&A session:

Video Q&A discusses:

  • role of hospice
  • Brittany Maynard not using hospice
  • Alzheimer's and Dementia, MS, Parkinsons, diagnoses that do not qualify for relief under the California End of Life Option Act
  • voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED)
  • failure to thrive
  • desire for extension of time period for qualifying under the law to beyond 6 months to live
  • training for implementing the End of Life Option Act
  • the 6-months or less requirement of the law and how death is not really predictable
  • doctors' hesitance to discuss death and/or recommend hospice
  • refusal of treatment at end of life


Sept., 2015 Hemlock Society meeting
What we can Learn from How Doctors Die. Our distinguished speaker was Dr. Ken Murray, author of the seminal paper, How Doctors Die. He is a retired family practitioner in Los Angeles. There were two excellent discussants: local, practitioning doctors who have registered their support for aid in dying: Dr. Jeoff Gordon and Dr. Lynette Cederquist:

Video of the Q&A session:
Includes discussions of
Difference between Advance Directive and POLST - ( Physician Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment Paradigm®)
DNR - Do Not Resuscitate
Difference between hospice and palliative care


May 17th, 2015 Hemlock Society meeting
Death with Dignity: Three Options for California
-Law Suit. Kathryn Tucker, Director of the Disability Rights Law Center discussed her law suit which would exempt doctors from criminal penalties if they helped someone die.
-Legislation. George Eighmey, lawyer, former legislator and director of the Oregon Compassion & Choices program, now working directly with the sponsors of SB128 in the Gen’l Assembly for DDNC (Death with Dignity National Center) discussed legislative process.  
-Exit Guide. Dr. Sally Hall, San Diego psychiatrist and member of the Medical Advisory Board for Final Exit Network and Senior Exit Guide. She discussed nonmedical methods and non-terminal patients.


March, March 15, 2015: Pioneers of the Right To Die Movement
Derek Humphry, Founder of the Hemlock Society, Dr. Richard Macdonald, Medical Director of the Hemlock Society and Faye Girsh, Past President of the Hemlock Society and current President of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, discussed the past and the future of the movement.


March, 2015, informal discussion between Faye Girsh and Derek Humphry on the right to die movement.


History of Right to Die Movement Informal Discussion, 2015
DEREK HUMPHRY, FAYE GIRSH, and DICK MACDONALD are pioneers of the Right to Die movement. They discuss the history of Right to Die societies, current status, and predictions for the future. Views of the right to die are compared in several countries.



24 and Ready to Die
An Economist film - Emily is 24 years old, physically healthy and lives in Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, even for children.



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Since 2015 we have been recording our meetings at the Scottish Rite Center, thanks to Ken Watson. They have been informative and interesting. Some people would like to see them again, some who didn't know about them can see them now, and some who couldn't get there can now enjoy the meeting. This applies to folks not just in the San Diego community but to anyone in the world. We want to continue disseminating information about achieving a peaceful death.

Please consider making a donation to the Hemlock Society of San Diego so we can be the unique source of information you should have.

Use Pay Pal (below)

or send a check to HSSD at PO Box 34237, San Diego CA 92163-4237.

Include the Hemlock Society of San Diego in your Will or Living Trust. Our tax ID # is: 33-0467982 .

Thank you!

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