Death, Life and Hospice

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I thought I knew what hospice was – until the time came to seek hospice for my Dad, and then I realized I had only the faintest idea of what hospice means, and I had a lot of misconceptions. On this episode, I speak with Dr. BJ Miller, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project (ZHP), one of the country’s most influential hospice programs. I also speak to my friend and long-time ZHP volunteer Mary Doane.

(If you enjoy this episode, check out our recent podcast “A Good Death” with Caitlin Doughty of the popular web series “Ask a Mortician” and author of the best-selling new memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory. And check out our episodes on environmental health and breast cancer prevention with Florence Williams, author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History; and (for the lighter side), episodes on humor and activism, your brain on activism, and on satire and activism, with Harry Shearer!)

The Zen Hospice Project (ZHP) was founded by the San Francisco Zen Center in 1987Today it is an independent nonprofit providing care at the bedside for those facing advanced illness and their loved ones, while also training and supporting a new wave of volunteer and professional care givers. Staff and volunteers are all trained in the ZHP approach to mindful, compassionate, and skillful care. ZHP provides services at the Laguna Honda county (public) hospital in San Francisco, and at its iconic Guest House.

Dr. BJ Miller is ZHP’s Executive Director. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF where he still attends on the Palliative Care Service at UCSF Medical Center, as well as in the Symptom Management Service of the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCSF’s groundbreaking outpatient palliative care clinic. His academic work has largely focused on palliative care education and leadership development.

Mary Doane is a long-time ZHP volunteer, who now works for ZHP as a volunteer trainer. She lives in Oakland with her husband and daughter and their cats.

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