Sometimes it only takes a brief moment to step back and examine your own practices. For physician Angelo Volandes, that moment came in 2009 while caring for his elderly father.
His father would soon die from an advanced and incurable neurological condition, but watching him suffer under the guise of medical intervention gave Volandes pause.
No one had "the conversation," said Volandes, by simply asking his father what he wanted.
"Over time, I recognized that we as physicians had spent so much time focused on the high-tech technology that we abandoned the most important technology we have, talking with patients," he said. "Each patient is a new slate, a new beginning, a new exploration on how to honor and respect them."
Volandes practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and is on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is the co-founder and president of the nonprofit foundation Advance Care Planning Decisions and is the author of "The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care."
The renowned patient rights advocate will bring this conversation to Savannah at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 26 at Savannah Technical College for the 10th annual Hospice Savannah lecture series. The event is free and open to the public.
During the presentation, Volandes will discuss his low-tech, high-empathy plan to revolutionize end-of-life care in the United States.
"The foundation of American health care is focusing on the health of the patient, avoiding pain and suffering, and doing no harm, while always remembering the person on the other end of the stethoscope," said Volandes.
"My hope is that after my presentation, people recognize the importance of having 'The Conversation,' and go home and have an honest conversation with their loved ones about: What's a good day? What sort of medical care would I want if I were not able to do the things that give me joy? What are my hopes and fears in terms of medical care? How does my religion/spiritual beliefs play a role in my medical decision-making?"
IF YOU GO
What: 10th annual Hospice Savannah lecture series with Dr. Angelo Volandes
When: 9:45 a.m. Jan. 26
Where: Eckburg Auditorium, Savannah Technical College, 5717 White Bluff Road
Cost: Free, open to the public
Also: Volandes will address physicians Jan. 25 at the Landings Plantation Club. RSVP at 912-629-1043 .