Death and Dying Fellowship Important as Ever in COVID Era

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF)'s 2022 Feinstein Fellowship on Death and Dying commenced with its first virtual session on January 24. Over the nine three-hour sessions, participants will learn, confront, and discuss the legal, medical, social, cultural, familial, and spiritual aspects of death and dying within a multi-disciplinary group in a low-pressure environment. This year's fellowship welcomes 33 applicants who hail from 7 universities in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Dunmore, PA, and represent 15 degree programs (from nursing and medicine programs to physical and occupational therapy, social work, ethics, and business).

During the first session, JHF President & CEO Karen Feinstein provided an overview of the Foundation and its operating arms as well as the priority initiatives of patient safety, workforce development, and new models for senior residential living. She also provided background on JHF's interest in improving end-of-life care and the increased importance of having end-of-life conversations as a consequence of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Robert Arnold, chief of the section of palliative care and medical ethics at the University of Pittsburgh, presented on the current state of end-of-life care, highlighting the tension between medicine's focus on extending life and the need to have ongoing conversations about patients' goals and wishes. JHF COO and Chief Program Officer Nancy Zionts and Judy Black, MD, medical advisor to JHF, provided an overview of JHF's Closure Model for end-of-life education. They also provided an overview of JHF's Aging Agenda, which encompasses initiatives on education and outreach in long-term care settings, supporting the nursing home workforce, senior engagement strategies, and dementia-friendly communities. Fellows had the opportunity to share their backgrounds, individual goals, and aspirations for the nine-week fellowship.

Over the course of the series, the core faculty will be supplemented by many healthcare and community leaders from a range of health and living sites who will share their experiences and skills with the fellows. The final session provides an opportunity for the Fellows to practice conversations around end-of-life based on the skills they have gained. 

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