the Hemlock Society of San Diego


About Us



CA End of Life Option Act

End-of-Life Resources


Film Festival

Video Library


Derek Humphry's List Serv

Contact Us


We are an
all-volunteer organization.
No funds go to salaries.

vertical line

List of Prior Events

Following is a list of presenters and topics from prior meetings (since 2006).

videoWant to see the video ? If the title has an *, click on the title to see a video of the meeting.

  • 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 *

    With increasing age, more and more people are dying of heart failure (formerly called congestive heart failure). What is heart failure? What can be done for it? How does one make end- of-life choices 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 will talk about heart failure, transplants and mechanical devices, details, risks, benefits, outcomes, making decisions regarding hospice/palliative end-of-life care for end-stage heart failure.

  • 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 will 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

  • Nov 17th and 18th, 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.

    See the medical futility blog and and for more information on his work. Handout from his talk.

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

    Dying Wish, the award winning 20-minute documentary is 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.

    Speakers: Dr. Bob Uslander and Lois Lighthart, family member of  VSED patient.

  • July 15, 2018
    Hospice and Palliative Care - What are they? Who pays? Do you have to terminal? What about aid in dying? What is palliative sedation? Everything you wanted to know.

    SpeakersMaryCarol Reeder, FNP-C (Certified Family Nurse Practitioner), Palliative Care Integration Director for Scripps Hospitals.

    Courtney Sniderman, Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Registered Nurse

    Stephen Poses, MD, private practice

    All three speakers are certified in Hospice and Palliative Care   

  • 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.

    A rally was held after the meeting to show support for the law, which has been threatened by the recent ruling of a Riverside judge who ruled that the law was passed in an unconstitional manner because it was passed in a special session. Deborah Ziegler, the mother of Brittany Manard and a fierce advocate of the End of Life Option Act, spoke. We also heard from several loved ones of people who have participated in the law.

  • March 18, 2018 :
    The Hemlock Society Presents the Nitrogen Method as a Means of Self-Deliverance
    Dr. Sally Hall, member of the Medical Evaluation Committee and Senior Guide for Final Exit Network spoke about, and demonstrated the nitrogen method for self-deliverance, with the help of an Associate Guide from the Network. Dr. Hall also explained how Final Exit Network works from first contact to his/her exit. This method is recommended to people who have qualified for FEN's Exit Guide service.

  • 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.

  • November 19, 2017
    General Meeting

    Due to technical difficulties the planned movie, Eyewitness, could not be shown. Dr. Mits Tomita led a group discussion on various end of life topics. The planned movie, Eyewitness, is a film by Dutch psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot with an excellent, rational discussion of planning for the end of life. Five film speakers deliver personal narratives of self-chosen and humane deaths. Three of the speakers are loved ones of people who used the method. One is a doctor who helped someone die - under the Dutch law. The fifth is an 80 year old woman describing her analysis of the three methods with pros and cons. Subjects include voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED), Helium, Prescription drugs, and Physician Assisted Dying.

  • November 4, 2017 :
    Special HSSD 30th Anniversary Celebration/Achieving a Peaceful Death Conference

    Conference Happy Birthday

    Click to see Topics/Speakers, request 2-set DVD and/or Hemlock Planning Packet.

  • Sept. 17, 2017
    What To do With the Body*

    How to do good once we're dead by donating our bodies and/or organs. How to save money and aggravation on expensive funerals was discussed. Experts discussed options for arranging for the body to be dealt with after death.
    Keith Larson, Director of  Tissue Outreach, UC San Diego Lifesharing, Organ and Tissue Donation Organization.
    John W. Nugent, President of the San Diego Memorial Society.
    Scott Barton, Director, Anatomical Services. UC San Diego School of Medicine-Division of Medical Education.
    Deanne M. Rugani-Osuana, funeral director and embalmer for Service Corporation International/Dignity.

  • July 26, 2017
    Medical Aid in Dying Law in California – One Year Later *

    Experts discussed how physician aid in dying works in San Diego.
    Speakers: 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

  • May 21, 2017
    Understanding Medical Cannabis *

    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

  • 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.

  • Jauary 15, 2017
    Brittany Maynard's mom talks about her daughter's life *

    Speaker: Deborah Ziegler
    Brittany Maynard's death, using the Death With Dignity law in Oregon, made California's End of Life Option Act possible. Deborah Ziegler talked about death with dignity, Brittany and a mother's struggle with acceptance of her impeding death. Deborah signed copies of her new book, "A Wild and Precious Life."

  • November 20, 2016 : Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)

    Mitsuo Tomita, M.D. Dr. Tomita highlighted learnings from the October 2016 2-day conference in Seattle on VSED, a legal option for hastening death.

  • September 18, 2016 : Canada and Their Advanced Assisted Dying Law *

    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.

    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.

  • July 17, 2016: 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. How can stroke be recognized and what can be done for strokes now? How does hospice address end-of-life care for persons with strokes?

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

  • May 15, 2016: 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.

    Bob Uslander, M.D, a holistic hospice and palliative care doctor, explained how hospice can help, what terminal sedation is and how voluntary stopping eating and drinking (VSED) can be used.

  • March 20, 2016: Memory Care Units, Advanced Directives, End of Life *
    If you find yourself in a memory care unit what will it be like? What advice do these experts have for people who would prefer to have their lives end early? Will an advance directive help? A panel discussion with:
    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.

  • January 18, 2016: Physician Aid in Dying: How It Works in Washington and How it will work in San Diego*
    Robb Miller, Executive Director of C&C, of Washington state (now End of Life Washington) for most of the last two decades. Among his many accomplishments, he was a recipient of the Hugh Gallagher Award, a national social justice award given to the person who has most effectively advocated for the rights of people from diverse backgrounds. He told us how Oregon's Death with Dignity Law works in Washington state.
    Stefanie Elkins, Medical Outreach for Compassion & Choices (C&C), talked about C&C's plans to focus on educating institutions and hospices about California's End of Life Option Act.

  • November 15, 2015: 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, hospiceís attitude, and the now exorbitant price of medications. George is Vice Ppresident 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 will discussed what he sees as the hospice role in the new law.

  • September 20, 2015: Panel Discussion: 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.

  • July 19, 2015: If Helium Doesn't Work And You Can't Use The Law, What Then? A report from the NuTech meeting/
    Speakers: Faye Girsh and Wil Wakely

  • May 17, 2015: 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 C&C 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 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.

  • January 18, 2015: How to Die Like a Dog - What Can We Learn about Euthanasia from Veterinarians
    Animals who are cared for usually have a good death. They get a shot and die quickly and peacefully in the arms of the person who loves them when their sufering becomes unbearable. Find out more about euthanasia (peaceful death) for pets and how it might apply to our situation from three veterinarians, Kristi Freeman, DVM, Lori Martin, DVM, and Alice Vranes, DVM.

  • November 23, 2014: Reports from the World Right to Die Conference, Bill Simmons moderator, with Carolyn Shadle and Mary Frumkin.
    A panel of speakers, attendees of the fabulous Conference in Chicago talked about what they learned, who they met, what their experience was like. There were 45 speakers from 23 countries.

  • September 28, 2014: Suffering From Life In The Very Old, Boudewijn Chabot, MD, PhD.
    Dr. Chabot is a Dutch psychiatrist who has been doing research on how people in the Netherlands die. He is the author of two new books, and two DVDs. Dr. Chabot made several presentations during the World RTD Conference and is joining us afterwards. This topic is being discussed in the Netherlands and Switzerland where voluntary euthanasia is a legal option.

  • July 20, 2014: Movie: Taking Control of your Death: Eyewitness Accounts
    Boudewijn Chabot, MD, PhD, is a Dutch psychiatrist who has been doing research on how people in the Netherlands die. This DVD discusses three do-it-yourself methods and shows interviews with three people who were with loved ones who used these methods.

  • June 23, 2014: End Of Life Care In Belgium Palliative Care Meets Assisted Dying
    Talk by Jan L. Bernheim, a medical oncologist with a PhD in medical sciences. He has had appointments at the universities of Gent, Amsterdam, Brussels, and UCSD. His publications include over 150 international peer-reviewed articles. He is on the Faculty of the Univ of Liege. In 1980 he founded the first palliative care service on the European continent.

  • May 18, 2014: To Gently Leave This Life: The Right To Die
    This book by Elaine Feuer examined the right-to-die movement world wide. Feuer writes about heartbreaking deaths of well known people, such as Karen Quinlan and Tony Nicklinson, who did not have control about how and when they died. She also wrote “Innocent Casualties: The FDA's War Against Humanity,” an expose of the FDA.

  • March 16, 2014: Something completely different!!! Order of the Good Death. Caitlin Doughty, a funny Los Angeles mortician, regaled us with her irreverent observations about American’s attitudes toward death, stories from the mortuary, unusual ideas about burials, and much more.

  • January 19, 2014: Home Health Care -- Six panelists from various areas of the home health care landscape enlightened us with insights from their perspectives.
    • Martha Ronan, Director of Education & Outreach, Southern Caregivers Resource Center
    • Wendy Wilde, Independent home health care provider
    • Ellen Brown, RN, MPh, Director, XiMed at Home
    • Karen VanDyke, Founder and Certified Senior Advisor, Senior Care by Design
    • Emily Yahyapour, Director of Community Relations, Bright Star
    • Betty Boone, Attorney and Home health care consumer

    As one of the panelists remarked "One size does not fit all."

  • November 17, 2018 - Pain ! Dr. Arnie Gass, Geriatrician, VA Hospital and Greg Polston, Anesthesiologist at UCSD, discussed all types of pain - cancer, spine, and chronic pain syndromes. Treatments, including acupuncture and medical marijuana, were discussed.

  • September 29, 2013: About dementia -- its effect on loved ones, decisions to use long-term care, consideration of a hastened death, how an advance directive can help, hospice, community facilities, and more. The panel will feature Daniel Kim, M.D., UCSD geriatric psychiatrist; Sally Hall, M.D., psychiatrist and Medical Advisory Committee, Final Exit Network; Lou Perry, husband of an Alzheimer’s patient, and Faye Girsh, Ed.D., President, Hemlock Society of San Diego

  • July 21, 2013: Doctors Talk about their Advance Directives -- Five local doctors, in diferent specialties from psychiatry to geriatrics, discuss how best to achieve the kind of dying experience which will enable them to retain control and dignity.

  • May 19, 2013: Dr. Tom Preston from Seattle talks about his book, "Doctor, Please help me Die," and explains the Death with Dignity law in his state, Washington.

  • March 24, 2013: Adult Protective Services -- presented by Anabel Kuykendall, an outreach and education worker for the County of San Diego, Aging and Independence Services

  • January 20, 2013: Free Film Showing: Right of Way -- a right-to-die film starring Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart

  • November 18, 2012: Panel Discussion about Retirement Communities

  • September 16, 2012: Dr. Faye Girsh, President, Hemlock Society of San Diego -- Choices for a Peaceful Death: Available Resources and a New Film "The Helium Method"

  • July 15, 2012: Dr. Karl Steinberg, Medical Director of a multi-facility nursing home and leads Scripps Coastalís Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) where he cares for patients at 12 North County coastal SNFs -- Long-Term Care: Tips and Pitfalls in Advance Care Planning

  • May 13, 2012: Movie and Discussion -- "How to Die in Oregon" -- a documentary about various people who have exercised the "Dying with Dignity" laws in Oregon and Washington.

  • January 15, 2012: Movie and Discussion -- "A Short Stay in Switzerland" -- a docudrama about a woman who follows through with her wish to obtain help with dying in Switzerland.

  • November 13, 2011: Jack Cumming, Actuary and Board Member, National Continuing Care Residents Association -- Retirement Communities: Are They For You?

  • September 11, 2011: Dr. Daniel Davis, Director, Center for Resuscitation Science at UCSD Medical Center -- How We Die: Resuscitation and Futile Care in San Diego

  • July 10, 2011: Advance Directives: Which Ones Do You Need...and Why -- A panel of 3 medical experts spoke about how doctors, nurses, and first responders view advance directives -- focusing particularly on the newly-updated POLST form.

  • May 15, 2011: Medical Technlogy: Extending Life or Prolonging Death -- Three medical specialists discuss technologies such as pacemakers, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, artificial feeding, dialysis and other advanced and newly-developed technologies that can extend life dramatically but also prolong the dying process when they are used as used without regard for the goals of treatment and clinical context.

  • March 20, 2011: Movie and Discussion: I Have Dementia and I Want to be Able to Die on my Own Terms -- In this amazing video Sir Terry Pratchett discusses (through an actor) his dementia and the need to allow people to have assisted dying when they request it.

  • January 9, 2011: George Eighmey, former Director of Compassion and Choices Oregon -- Lessons Learned from 12 Years of the Oregon Death with Dignity Law

  • November 14, 2010: Movie and Discussion -- "You Don't Know Jack" -- Al Pacino's award-winning biography/drama about Jack Kevorkian

  • September 12, 2010: John West, attorney and author -- Helping My Parents End Their Suffering

  • July 11, 2010: Emanuel Kauder, M.D. and Donna Olson, R.N. -- Everything You Wanted to Know About Hospice Care

  • May 9, 2010: Attorney Rob Rivas -- Final Exit Network: When is Compassion a Crime

  • March 21, 2010: Dr. Stan Terman -- Avoiding a Prolonged Dying by Refusing Food and Fluid - Two short films and a discussion with Dr. Stan Terman

  • January 10, 2010: Mademoiselle and the Doctor -- A film made in Australia about a woman turning 80 who wants to die.

  • September 13, 2009: Dr. Richard MacDonald -- My Experience with Peaceful, Self-Chosen Death

  • July 12, 2009: Dr. Laura Nathanson -- Protecting Yourself in the Medical System

  • May 10, 2009: Film: The Suicide Tourist

  • March 8, 2009: David Morgan -- Thwarting the Religious Right in Matters of Life and Death

  • January 11, 2009: Derek Humphry -- Still Searching for a Peaceful Death

  • November 2, 2008: Dr. Adrian Jaffer -- End of Life Issues, Options, and Choices from the Physician's Perspective

  • July 27, 2008: Washington Green Flash Party

  • May 4, 2008: Eli Stutsman -- Death and Dignity: A Citizen's Initiative in Washington State

  • March 30, 2008: Veronika Glenn -- Planning for Successful Aging: When and How to Get Help

  • February 3, 2008: Herb Hawley: Part II: Donations of your body or body parts to help others survive

  • November 4, 2007: Barbara Kernan, John Davis, Karleen Baptiste, and Herb Hawley -- What to Do With Your Body After Death

  • September 9, 2007: Neal Nicol: My Friend, Jack Kevorkian: Everything You Wanted to Know About "Dr. Death"

  • May 13, 2007: LeVon Switzer, Vitas Hospice -- Hospice: Is it Right for You?

  • March 4, 2007: Representatives of C&C, Final Exit Network, Caring Advocates -- Death with Dignity is Available Now in San Diego

  • January 14, 2007: Final Exit, the DVD

  • November 12, 2006: Fay Girsh -- Death with Dignity, Worldwide Developments

  • September 11, 2006: Health Care Agent as Advocate

    *videoWant to see the video ? If the title has an *, click on the title to see a video of the meeting.

Click here to return to information about upcoming meetings.

vertical line

Programs and activities of the Hemlock Society of San Diego (HSSD) are made possible by your membership dues and the generous donations of members and friends. Donations and memberships (tax deductible) can be sent to: HSSD, PO Box 34237, San Diego CA 92163.
Use PayPal for donations (any amount)

Donations of $100 or more will be acknowledged in our newsletter. Please let us know if you do not want to be acknowledged in the newsletter.

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

Thank you!

Home | About Us | Join HSSD | Articles | End-of-Life Resources | Events | Film Festival | Derek Humphry's List Serv | Contact Us