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Sarah Lawrence Presents Emmy-Nominated 'Being Mortal'

Boston surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande, the primary subject of the documentary, shares end-of-life experiences.
Boston surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande, the primary subject of the documentary, shares end-of-life experiences. Photo Credit: contributed

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- The PBS "Frontline" documentary "Being Mortal" -- based on the book by surgeon, writer and public health researcher Dr. Atul Gawande -- will be shown at Sarah Lawrence College on Thursday, Oct. 6, as part of a program on end-of-life planning.

The screening of the Emmy-nominated documentary about how doctors struggle to care for dying patients will be followed by a panel discussion on death and dying and how families can discuss the wishes and values of loved ones as they approach the end of life.

The free event is open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

The Westchester End-of-Life Coalition is partnering with Sarah Lawrence College to bring this screening, along with Gramatan Village and Jansen Hospice and Palliative Care.

"With the population aging and young adults delaying parenthood, the gap between births and deaths is at its lowest in modern history," said Rebecca Johnson, director of graduate studies for the college's End of Life program. "While our healthcare system is good at prolonging life, we are not so good about preparing for death."

Christina Staudt, president of the Westchester End-of-Life Coalition, will moderate the program. She said the Hospice Foundation of America selected her group to show the film, which is being presented in different locations, with support by a grant from the John and Wauna Harman Foundation.

"The advantage of these screenings and discussions is that members of the lay community as well as medical professionals become motivated and empowered to take concrete steps to bring up end-of-life conversations with each other," Staudt said.

Aired on PBS in February 2015, "Being Mortal" follows Boston surgeon Gawande, who shares experiences at the end of life from patients and his own family. He published a national bestselling book by the same name.

The 55-minute film will be shown at 6:30 p.m., in the meeting room of the Esther Raushenbush Library, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Staudt.

These are are the panel members:

  • Dr. Deborah Cappell, medical director of Palliative Medicine Services at New York-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital and a member of the End of Life Care Program Advisory Committee;
  • Diana Diaz-Serafin, RN, MS, CHAPN, director of Patient Services, Jansen Hospice and Palliative Care; and
  • Marlene Furtick, LMSW, clinical director Mount Vernon Office, Family Services of Westchester.
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