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Summit, NJ, September 23, 2013 -- While many families defer conversations about health care until a pressing medical need arises, experience shows that “having the conversation” early, often and in times of good health improves quality of life for everyone involved. To demystify this conversation and provide local families with tools for opening discussions, The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, in collaboration with Overlook Medical Center, is hosting “Having the Conversation: Making Important Health Care Decisions.” This interactive intergenerational community workshop will be held Tuesday, October 22 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Hyde and Watson Theater on the Kent Place Campus.

Planning your life’s journey—including the last chapter—for yourself and your loved ones is essential to ensuring a good life. Since end-of-life care decisions affect people of all ages, The Ethics Institute and Overlook Medical Center hope to reach through this workshop teens and adults in all stages of life.

“Having a face-to-face conversation with your loved ones about your end-of-life preferences can release them from incredibly difficult and burdensome decisions,” explains Dr. Jeanne Kerwin, ethics and palliative care coordinator at Overlook Medical Center. “With modern medicine’s myriad of life-sustaining technologies, one must actually plan and ‘orchestrate’ the last chapter of life. If we leave it to chance, we lose control of the journey and those things that are most important to us,” says Kerwin.

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The workshop will feature a screening of Anna’s Story, a documentary about end-of-life care conversations with family members and care providers, as well as a panel. Guest speakers include Kent Place School Bioethics Project 2012 student scholars, a family member with recent experience in end-of-life care conversations, and Overlook Medical Center staff: Sue Fessler, MD PhD FCCP, medical director of intensive care; Sharon Burniston, MDiv, palliative care chaplain; Jeanne Kerwin, DMH, CT; Ann Cantine, RN, intensive care unit.

The Ethics Institute and Overlook Medical Center share a common mission to support community awareness and involvement in biomedical ethics. The event is free and registration is open to the local community. Due to limited seating, advance registration is requested. To register or for more information, please visit For more information about Overlook Medical Center, please visit 

Kent Place School is located at 42 Norwood Avenue in Summit, NJ. 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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