Washington End-of-Life Coalition

WEOLC logoThe WSMA created the Washington End-of-Life Coalition (WEOLC) in June 1997 with an agreement among participating parties on a vision for end-of-life care and a set of goals to realize this vision. The Coalition works to ensure that it is responding to short-range needs in care for the dying while allowing its long-range work to evolve, as end-of-life care itself evolves. Membership to the Coalition is free.

“Between Heaven and Mirth”—Donna Oiland on the power of laughter at end-of-life coalition annual meeting, Nov. 7

"Laughter is the same as food. You have to have some everyday. It's important for survival, for living on this planet. It's the safely valve that keeps you going. Because the world is partly sane and partly insane you need perspective and laughter gives it to you."

Click here to register online for the 2014 WEOLC Annual Meeting

Click here to download a meeting information, including agenda.

Join Donna Oiland, longtime member of the steering committee for the Washington End-of-Life Coalition (WEOLC), as she explores the power of laughter at the coalition’s 2014 annual meeting, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport

Laughter is essential for our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Someone once said that life it too serious to be taken seriously. One of the gifts we can give ourselves is being able to intentionally laugh. Join Donna as she shares ways to put more laughter into your life for your health and for the health and well-being of the patients you serve.

Donna is the author of Legacy ...Reflections Along the Way, frequently used to assist personal storytelling and promoting “dignity therapy” for hospice patients and their families. Donna presents educational workshops for Cancer Lifeline and Evergreen Healthcare and is a certified laugh leader with the World Laughter Tour. She is on the executive committee of the Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries and serves as a network coordinator for the Seattle/Eastside area.

The WEOLC annual meeting will also feature:

Updates around the state

Bruce C. Smith, MD, executive medical director for government programs, Regence BlueShield, and co-chair, Washington State POLST Task Force, will update meeting attendees on:

  • POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) form revisions for 2014
  • The Bree Collaborative 2014 report on end-of-life recommendations
  • Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest preview
  • The National POLST Paradigm

Did you know? Short presentations

POLST for Caregivers: Honoring POLST in Private Homes and Residential Care Settings | Presented by Lorrie Mahar, office chief, Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and Sharmon Figenshaw, ARNP, ACHPN, palliative care consult service, Skagit Valley Hospital, co-chair, Washington State POLST Task Force. This presentation will include a new short instructional video with accompanying curriculum, designed for caregivers in any care setting, on how to honor their residents/clients who have a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.

Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest Initiative | Presented by Jessica Martinson, MS, director of clinical education and professional development, Washington State Medical Association, and Tanya Carroccio, RN, MSN, MBA, director of quality and performance improvement, Washington State Hospital Association. Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, an initiative of WSHA and WSMA, is launching a statewide advance care planning implementation strategy. The strategy includes a new website, which will provide education and resources for both the public and health care professionals. The strategy also includes a five-year, phased, sustainable advance care planning implementation program for health care organizations and communities across the state.

Not Here By Choice | Presented by Phyllis Shacter, teacher, life and business coach, business consultant and public speaker. Phyllis will share a very personal story about how she and her husband carried out his decision to voluntarily stop eating and drinking (VSED) so he didn't have to live into the late stages of Alzheimer's. Her husband, Alan, died on April 19, 2013. Click here to view Phyllis' TEDx talk.

Person-Centered Care: Considerations for a Health Plan-Based Palliative Care Program | Presented by Torrie Fields, director of personalized care support at Cambia Health Solutions. This presentation will provide the framework and implementation of Cambia Health Solutions' health plan-based serious illness services program used for their 2.2 million members, and will provide a structure for other payers to use in development of palliative care initiatives.

Panel discussion

A panel discussion, facilitated by Debora Swets, vice president of membership, Washington State Hospital Association, will include the following community end-of-life initiatives:
  • The Whatcom End-of-Life Community Collaboration. Represented by Mary Ann Percy, the Whatcom End-of-Life Community Collaboration identified essential components for success in advance care planning, developed a plan for program implementation and determined benchmarks for measuring outcomes. Mary Ann will report on the results and recommendations.
  • The Hospital-Community Partnership – Whitman County Advance Care Planning. Represented by Katie Evermann Druffel, Pullman Regional Hospital is collaborating with the Friends of Hospice to provide the Gundersen Lutheran First Steps training to 45 community members from throughout Whitman County.
  • Respecting Choices – PeaceHealth Southwest. Represented by Kristin Meador, Respecting Choices Community Education is a free two-hour class that is offered quarterly through PeaceHealth Southwest.
  • TBA

How to register

To register online, click here, or click here to download a fax registration form. The registration fee is $65 when you register online or by fax by the end of business Monday, Nov. 3. After Nov. 3, pre-registration will be closed; however, walk-in registration will be available for $75. Your registration fee includes continental breakfast, beverage service and catered lunch.You must have an account with the WSMA to register online. Setting up an account is free and easy. If you've attended past meetings, you likely have an account with WSMA already. Follow the instructions at the registration link.

If you have problems registering, the WSMA front office will be happy to register you manually. Call (800) 552-0612 or email abby@wsma.org.

Exhibitors welcome at the 2014 WEOLC annual meeting

The fee for exhibitors is $175 and will include: one 6' skirted table (fabric draping), two chairs and company representative(s) name badges. To register as an exhibitor, download an application form and submit with payment. The exhibit fee includes meeting registration fee for exhibit manager. If other company representatives aside from the exhibit manager would like to attend the meeting they need to register individually and pay the meeting registration fee. Booth assignments will be determined by the event organizers. All booths will be located in one of two hallways directly outside of the meeting room. Cancellations received on or after Oct. 31 will be charged a $25 service fee. Exhibitor space is limited, so apply today.

WEOLC requesting sponsors for meeting

Sponsorships are available for this year’s meeting.

Sponsorship Acknowledgement
$250 Bronze Sponsor Name acknowledgement in meeting program, name acknowledged on the WEOLC website for 6 months and supporter of the Annual Meeting.
$500 Silver Sponsor Name acknowledgement in meeting program, logo on the WEOLC website for 6 months, acknowledged as sponsor for the Annual Meeting breakfast.
$1000 Gold Sponsor Logo acknowledgement in meeting program, logo on the WEOLC website for 6 months, acknowledged as sponsor for the Annual Meeting and opportunity to introduce keynote speaker.

Legal, health care and spiritual professionals, community leaders and volunteers from across the state will be attending this Washington End-of-Life Coalition Annual Meeting. This is a crowd passionate and active in furthering the value and cause of end-of-life planning for people of all ages and circumstances. In order to keep our registration fees affordable for all, we are looking for some partners in offering the meeting this year. Would you and/or your organization be open to helping us make this meeting possible? For further information and questions, please contact Graham Short at (800) 551-0612, or gfs@wsma.org,

More news from the WEOLC

To receive the Coalition's newsletter via email, contact Graham Short at gfs@wsma.org, or (206) 956-3633.

About us

The Washington End-of-Life Coalition (WEOLC) began its work in June 1997. While acknowledging that effecting change in our families, communities, and health care institutions will require long-term vision and effort, the Coalition believes that efforts both immediate and long range need to be brought to bear to significantly improve care for the dying. The Coalition will annually revisit its goals and its work toward them to ensure that it is responding to short-range needs in care for the dying while allowing its long-range work to evolve, as end-of-life care itself evolves.

Membership of the WEOLC is a broad-based cross-section of individuals and organizations across the state interested in bettering end of life care. Coalition members meet once a year at the WEOLC annual meeting, usually in the fall, where the course of action for the upcoming year is determined. The Steering Committee of the WEOLC meets quarterly to create an action plan for reaching the goals set forth by the Coalition.

Vision and Mission Statement

Our vision

is a community where people are empowered to make knowledgeable choices regarding their end of life that are known, respected and honored.

Our mission

is to promote caring conversations about living and dying well within all communities across Washington state.

Our focus

is to provide outreach and networking opportunities through our annual membership meeting in the fall and to provide support for the state POLST paradigm program.


  1. We foster conversation to build common ground, increase understanding and collaboration, reduce polarization, and increase open honest discussion where everyone's diverse perspective is honored.
  2. We value the development of rich relationships that support leadership and facilitate networking for professionals and lay people involved in/working with serious illness and end of life issues.
  3. We believe the end of life is a natural important life cycle event.
  4. We value helping patients and families live the best life they can until they die.
  5. We believe that patients, families and communities should be empowered to choose care based on their values and goals.
  6. We believe in building diverse coalitions that create consensus in ways that improve the end-of-life experience for every person in the state of Washington.
  7. We believe that everyone in the state of Washington should have access to excellent end-of-life care.
  8. We support access to hospice and palliative care for all citizens in the state of Washington.
  9. We celebrate the successful events that have gone before in end-of-life care.

Join the WEOLC

To join the Washington End-of-Life Coalition, just contact Coalition staff member Graham Short at gfs@wsma.org, or (206) 956-3633 and ask to join. It's as simple as that.

There are no annual dues. Members will receive the WEOLC newsletter (via email or mail) and will be invited to participate in a yearly WEOLC annual meeting, typically in the fall.

Other opportunities to participate will be detailed in the newsletter.

WEOLC Steering Committee

Char Barret

Founder, A Sacred Moment
Representing: A Sacred Moment
About: Char is a licensed funeral director, home funeral consultant, celebrant and founder of A Sacred Moment – Home Funeral Vigils, Green Burials & Life Celebrations funeral service. She specializes in assisting families with directing funerals in their own homes. Beyond her degree in mortuary science and formal training as a licensed funeral director, Char has been trained and is an experienced home funeral guide and celebrant. She has been a hospice volunteer since the early 90's and helped establish Camp Erin – King County, volunteering for Providence Hospice since the camp's inception in 2004.

Karin Brook, MSW

Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Ctr.
Representing: YRM&CC
About: In my role as a hospital social worker, I am assisting patients, staff and physicians in dealing with end-of-life issues on a daily basis. I am the person that other staff come to with questions on the POLST form and hospice issues. I have assisted in bringing challenging questions and issues to the hospital ethics committee of which I am a member. I would like the opportunity to connect on the state level over these issues and questions, and participate in forming guidelines and policy, and increase my own knowledge through association with others in this field of interest.

Cheryl Ellsworth, MSW

Social Worker, Hospice Volunteer
Representing: Individual
About: Cheryl works with several hospitals providing grief support, facilitating conversations about death and dying, and advanced care planning. At the University of Washington Medical Center, she serves as a volunteer with the palliative care team providing staff support; at Harborview Medical Center she serves as a per-diem spiritual care provider; at Swedish-Edmonds, she works with the advanced care planning consult service. Cheryl is co-creator and facilitator of Waking Fully to Living and Dying, a program to explore death as a transformative opportunity. Cheryl has been a volunteer with Providence Hospice since 2005. She is also a certified facilitator with Respecting Choices, a nationally recognized advanced care-planning model.

Sharmon Figenshaw RN, ARNP

Palliative Care/Hospitalist
The Everett Clinic/Providence Regional Medical Center
: Individual
About: Sharmon has been a clinician in hospice and palliative care for over 20 years. She initiated palliative care hospitalist service at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, contracted through The Everett Clinic. She received the Amazing Service Award in 2007 for service to excellence in patient care. The ARNP-driven palliative care service was named as one of three key elements in the National Circle of Life Award given to the Snohomish County Palliative Partnership in 2010. Sharmon has been part of the WEOLCC since 1999, serving as chair from 2008-2010. She currently co-chairs the Washington POLST Task Force.

Therese A Johnson


Representing: Individual
About: A psychotherapist in private practice on Mercer Island, Therese has worked in the field of end-of-life care, grief counseling and traumatic loss for twenty years. Coauthor and editor of When Professionals Weep: Emotional and Countertransference Reactions in End of Life Care by Katz and Johnson, 2006.

Anne Koepsell, RN, BSN, MHA

(Past chair)

Executive Director
WA State Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (WSHPCO)
Representing: WSHPCO
About: Anne has over 35 years nursing experience and over 25 years experience in hospice and home health administration. She was executive director of Hospice of Spokane for 10 years prior to her current position with WSHPCO. She has served on the WSHPCO, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Foundation for Hospices in sub-Saharan Africa Board of Directors.

Robb Miller

Executive Director
Compassion & Choices of Washington
Representing: C& C of WA and WA Health Decisions Coalition
About: Robb has been the executive director of C&C of WA since 2000. In 2005, Robb received the Hugh Gallagher Award, a national social justice award given to the person who has most effectively advocated for the rights of people from diverse backgrounds. He also created a new C&C advance directive that set a new standard for advance planning documents in Washington. Robb was one of the leaders of, and key spokespersons for, the I-1000 Coalition which passed Initiative 1000, the Washington Death With Dignity Act.

Donna Oiland

Dept of Spiritual Care
Evergreen Healthcare
Representing: Individual
About: Donna worked in the field of organ and tissue donation as the director of the Lions Eye Bank Serving Washington Northern Idaho and Alaska. Although committed to educating healthcare professionals and doing public education on the importance and benefits of donation, it was when her husband was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer her interest in improving end-of–life care became a passion. She has authored a book, ”“Legacy ...Reflections Along the Way,” that is being used to assist personal storytelling and promoting “dignity therapy” for hospice patients and their families. Donna presents educational workshops for Cancer Lifeline and Evergreen Healthcare and is a certified laugh leader with the World Laughter Tour. She is on the executive committee of the Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries and serves as a network coordinator for the Seattle/Eastside area.

Bonnie Shultz, MSW, LICSW

Palliative Care MSW Navigator
Harrison Medical Center
Representing: Harrison Medical Center
About: Ms. Shultz has taught courses at the University of Washington since 2003. Her course, Caring for Persons with Life-Limiting Illness, is one of the highest rated practice courses at the school. In 2011, she was nominated for the UW Distinguished Teaching Award, in 2013 was awarded the MSW Student Choice Teaching Award. Ms Shultz assisted in establishing the pediatric palliative care consultation service at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and was the leader in bringing palliative care services to Evergreen Healthcare in Kirkland, WA. She has worked on grants such as Robert Wood Johnson Pediatric Palliative Care Demonstration grant, two Aetna Foundation grants, and is a recipient of George Soro’s, Project on Death in America Social Work Leadership Award.

Bruce C. Smith, MD

(Vice chair)
Associate Medical Director
Group Health Physicians
WSMA member
Representing: Individual
About: Dr. Smith served as the medical director for Group Health's Hospice, Palliative Care, and Nursing Home programs for 5 years. He is involved in medical organizations representing geriatrics, end-of-life care, medical ethics, and health policy and speaks often to professional and community audiences. He is a co-chair of the Washington state POLST Task Force and serves as the Washington state representative to the National POLST Paradigm Task Force.

Deborah Swets

Vice President of Membership
Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA)
Representing: WSHA

Graham Short