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Screening, discussion of ‘Being Mortal’ film to be held March 25 at Oakland University

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February 23, 2017
The "Being Mortal" film, based on the best-selling book by Atul Gawande, M.D., explores the hopes of terminally ill patients and their families, investigates the practice of caring for the dying, and delves into the relationship between patients and their doctors.

Oakland University, in partnership with Hospice of Michigan, will host a screening and panel discussion of the PBS Frontline documentary “Being Mortal” from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 25 in the Gold Room at the Oakland Center, located at 321 Meadow Brook Road in Rochester. The event is open to the public.


“Hospice of Michigan encourages everyone to have important end-of-life discussions,” said Michael Paletta, M.D., FAAHPM, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer for Hospice of Michigan.


“The PBS Frontline documentary is the perfect starting point for families to explore their love ones’ desires and wishes.”


The 54-minute film is based on the best-selling book by Atul Gawande, M.D., which explores the hopes of terminally ill patients and their families, investigates the practice of caring for the dying, and delves into the relationship between patients and their doctors. It was inspired by Gawande’s own search for answers about how best to care for the dying after his father was diagnosed with cancer.


“The ‘Being Mortal’ screening and panel discussion will provide a unique learning opportunity for those in the fields of social work, counseling, and nursing,” said Amy Olind, assistant director of Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) at Oakland University.


“In addition to highlighting the importance of open communication between clinicians and patients about end of life planning, Dr. Gawande offers an alternative perspective about how best to care for those in the final stages of life.”


Following the screening, audience members are invited to attend a special session with a panel of experts on how to take steps to identify and communication wishes about end-of-life goals and preferences. The panel will be moderated by WJBK Fox 2 News Anchor Deena Centofanti.


In addition to Paletta, the five-member panel will include:


  • Christopher J. Berry, J.D., CELA, certified elder law attorney


  • Judy Didion, Ph.D., R.N., dean of Oakland University’s School of Nursing


  • Elysa Koppelman-White, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy at Oakland University


  • Jennifer J. Matthews, Ph.D., assistant professor of counseling at Oakland University


“It is the role of health care providers to develop a relationship with the patient and family that allows them to be part of the healthcare team,” Didion said. “It is especially important for individuals and families facing a terminal illness as they learn to understand options and make informed decisions about how they want to live their lives.”


According to Hospice of Michigan, the “Being Mortal” project began in February 2016 and to date, more than 650 organizations have partnered to engage their local communities in 771 “Being Mortal” events, which typically include a screening of the film, followed by a guided and reflective audience discussion that ends with participants understanding the concrete steps they can take to start having conversations with their loved ones and healthcare professionals.


“The overwhelming success of this project highlights the demand for education on the importance of having these conversations,” said Amy Tucci, CEO of the Hospice Foundation of America. “Ensuring quality end-of-life care is HFA’s mission so we think about this topic every day, but most people don’t think about it until they’re faced with serious illness.


“This campaign is helping people consider not only their own end-of-life care, but also care for their loved ones. I’m grateful to the Harman Foundation and all the wonderful organizations that continue to join us in this campaign to provide Americans with information they need to have their wishes carried out when it matters most.”


According to Olind, the program is being offered in collaboration with Oakland University’s PACE department as a way to encourage professionals to attend the program, which has been approved for continuing education (2.0 CE) for social workers and licensed professional counselors (NBCC) credits.


“We have nursing CEU’s (continuing education credits) that are pending, as well,” she said.


For more information about the program, please visit the Being Mortal website, or contact Susan Cujar at


For questions regarding registration, please contact PACE at or at 248-370-4699.

Sean Delaney, Public Information Assistant, (248) 370-3139