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Telling Stories of ‘Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour’

Our health care system promotes saving and extending life at all costs — sometimes sacrificing patients’ own desires on how to spend their final moments. In many families, conversations about how a loved one would prefer to die happen too late or not at all. The emerging field of palliative care seeks to shift how we think about the end of life, how we communicate with doctors and family members, and how we turn those conversations into a plan that guides a final journey. Dr. Sunita Puri is at the forefront of this field, and her new book, “That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour,” harnesses the intimate power of storytelling to spur a deeper discussion about how patients and doctors can work together to restore meaning and dignity to the end of life. For journalists, it can be difficult to report this crucial part of the health care story. In this webinar, we’ll share insights and suggestions for those seeking to deeper their understanding and coverage of palliative care and end-of-life issues.

WHEN: April 23, from 10 to 11 a.m. PT / 1-2 p.m. ET

REGISTER: [Now closed]

Our panelists:

Dr. Sunita Puri is the author of “That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour” and the medical director for palliative care at the Keck Medical Center and Norris Cancer Center of USC. She completed medical school and residency training in internal medicine at the University of California San Francisco, and did her fellowship training in hospice and palliative medicine at Stanford University. A graduate of Yale University, Puri studied history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and JAMA Internal Medicine. She has received writing fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, UCross Foundation, and Mesa Refuge. In 2018, she received the Etz Chaim Tree of Life Award from the USC Keck School of Medicine, awarded annually to a member of the faculty who provides humanistic and compassionate care. 

Fran Smith is a nationally recognized writer and editor, the author of two nonfiction books and a contributor to National Geographic. She specializes in translating complex research and social issues into compelling stories for a broad audience. Her articles on health, medicine and medical research have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and dozens of magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Health, O: The Oprah Magazine, Prevention and Psychology Today. She has won numerous awards for feature writing, investigative reporting, medical reporting, and editing, and shared a Pulitzer Prize for work at the San Jose Mercury News. Her 2013 book, “Changing the Way We Die,” co-authored with Sheila Himmel, won an Independent Book Publishers Award. Smith is a graduate of Cornell University and received her journalism degree from UC Berkeley. She was also the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. 

 Webinars are free and made possible by The Commonwealth Fund and the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation. 

 Suggested reading

Physician & Author Sunita Puri on End of Life Care,” via PBS

The Lesson of Impermanence,” by Sunita Puri, The New York Times

Unequal Lives, Unequal Deaths,” by Sunita Puri, The New York Times

How do you talk to your patients about death?” by Sunita Puri, Literary Hub

Here’s What Mortality Can Teach Us about Living in the Moment,” by Sunita Puri, Thrive Global

That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour,” by Sunita Puri, Viking (2019)

Changing the Way We Die: Compassionate End of Life Care and The Hospice Movement,” by Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel, Viva Editions (2013)



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