Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reflections on the Flanigan Lecture

Terry Rosell, DMin, PhD
Rosemary Flanigan Chair

August 5, 2010

Today I am writing reflections on a stimulating 16th annual Flanigan Lecture August 3 in Kansas City, followed by a breakfast meeting with mostly oncology folk the next morning. There were well over 200 at the lecture and about 80 for breakfast. Excellent.

Our retiring Distinguished Fellow, Dr Rosemary Flanigan, was acknowledged with standing ovations for 18 years of service at the Center for Practical Bioethics. Accolades all around. Words can't say how much she will be missed... and how grateful we are to you, Rosemary.

Our lecturer was neuro-oncologist Dr Kathy Foley from Sloan Kettering. She lived up to her reputation as palliative care pioneer and virtual icon of that hugely successful movement.

Dr Foley documented with citations elements of p.c. success. And ongoing challenges. No synopsis here, but look for audio and video podcasts of her lecture to be posted for free download at by August 12.

I had questions afterward for Dr Foley about medical and ethical challenges of palliative and hospice care for persons whose terminal illness includes significant psychiatric involvement, perhaps even as primary diagnosis with voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED). She didn't have answers, only an immediate clinical anecdote that makes the point on which we could both agree: this is a yet mostly unresolved dilemma for palliative and hospice medicine.

I'm guessing that some of you have relevant anecdotes on this theme, as well. Do you? Or as Rosemary would write: Help!!!

Rosemary’s final request of me last Wednesday, while stepping on the elevator to leave us, was that I post something today about the Flanigan Lecture.

I've done my duty. Gladly.



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