Image of dinner with a doctor: two people holding hands

Most Americans, when asked what would constitute a good death say they would like to die at home with their loved ones around them.

Yet, it is estimated that fewer than 20 percent have their wish granted, with many spending their last 10 days in a hospital ICU.

The next Dinner with a Doctor, hosted by SBH Health System (St. Barnabas Hospital) with Hospice of New York, will focus on hospice and palliative care and communicating end-of-life wishes. The event will be held on Tuesday, November 10th in English and on Thursday, November 12th in Spanish at the Braker Building, 4422 Third Avenue, on the St. Barnabas Hospital campus (beginning at 6 p.m.). There is no cost to attend the event, which will include the serving of a delicious and healthful meal.

Dr. David Annan, a physician at SBH Health System and Hospice of New York will discuss hospital and palliative care options and answer questions. Palliative care provides patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. Hospice care, which is the final stage of palliative care, helps people at the end of life live pain free with dignity and comfort, have control of their treatment, and achieve the best quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. Attendees will also learn about the importance of Healthcare Proxies and Advanced Directives that assure that end-of-life wishes are carried out.

Studies have shown that the cost of keeping people alive during their end of life is exorbitant, with little concern for quality of life. The Dartmouth Atlas Project, led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recently documented both regional and hospital-specific variations in the medical care provided to Medicare beneficiaries with one or more chronic illnesses at the end of life. Researchers found that people with severe chronic illness who live in communities where they receive more intensive inpatient care – such as more surgery and testing – do not have improved survival, better quality of life, or better access to care than patients who live in communities where they receive less care. These patients, however, received a much more aggressive brand of medicine, saw medical specialists more frequently, spent more days in the hospital, and died in an ICU more often than those in lower intensity regions. New York is ranked among the states with the most intensive care, no improvement in survival and the highest cost.