Ep. 419 Humane Prison Hospice Project with Lisa Deal RN and Fernando Murillo

Learn about a remarkable program that trains incarcerated people in palliative and hospice care skills so they can provide care for their peers in correctional facilities.

My two special guests this week work with the Humane Prison Hospice Project: Lisa Deal is the Executive Director, who previously worked for Mission Hospice and Home Care in California. Fernando Murillo is the Program Manager for the Palliative Care Initiative at the Humane Prison Hospice Project where he trains incarcerated people to provide palliative and hospice care for their aging and dying peers. Fernando shares the story of committing himself to improving the overall quality of life in the correctional setting during his own 24 years of incarceration. Together we discuss the need for hospice and palliative care in prisons and how this project is meeting that need and hoping to expand in the future. Learn more at the website:


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This episode includes:

  • How the Humane Prison Hospice Project got started
  • How Lisa became interested in the idea of prison hospice
  • Fernando’s journey from incarceration to now providing training in palliative and hospice care skills to others who are incarcerated
  • Why palliative and hospice care is desperately needed right now in prisons in the U.S.
  • How incarcerated people benefit from receiving training to become caregivers for their fellow residents
  • How the entire prison, including staff, benefits from the presence of the Humane Prison Hospice Project
  • How to get similar projects started in other prisons across the country
  • What hospice workers need to know before volunteering to teach in a correctional setting

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest donors Cathy Duke, Laurie Kurs, and Kelly Oberle! Also many thanks to all of you who joined the $10 for 10 Years Campaign! Your contributions make all the difference and ensure this podcast stays ad-free.


Ep. 391 Dying in America: A Journalist’s Exploration with Ann Neumann

Learn about this journalist’s research into “the good death” and what she learned through seven years of study and travel across the U.S.

My guest Ann Neumann is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper’s magazine, The Baffler, Guernica magazine, and elsewhere. After caring for her father at his end of life she became a hospice volunteer and began to research the meaning of a “good death” in this country, which led to her book The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America. She shares some of the things she learned about death as she traveled the country and listened to opinions, beliefs, and stories about what constitutes a good death. Learn more at her website:


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This episode includes:

  • How Ann’s experience caring for her father at the end of his life inspired her research for the book
  • How Ann and her family felt unprepared for the actual dying process even though they were receiving care from hospice
  • How the “gentle” marketing of hospice and death care services can obscure the reality of the challenges of dying
  • The tragedy of “false hope” being offered to patients rather than factual information
  • Where Ann found inspiration for each of the topics she covered in the book (e.g. medical aid in dying, pro-life movement, religious influence on dying, disability issues, prison hospice)
  • Why “dignity” can mean something different to people who live with disabilities
  • The extensive work needed to overcome racial disparities in end-of-life care and restore trust

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patron Jason P. and thank you also the anonymous person who bought me 5 coffees! Your contributions make all the difference.

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Hospice

Ep. 30 Prison Terminal: A Film About Hospice in Prisons with Edgar Barens

Dr. Karen Wyatt interviews Edgar Barens who is the director of the documentary film “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.” The film focuses on hospice care being offered to a dying inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary, where fellow inmates help provide care to the sick and dying. This film would be an excellent selection for a community-wide film series and discussion group.

In this interview you will learn about:

  • the process of creating this film and what motivated Edgar Barens to take on such a project
  • the aging prison population and the need for hospice care in prisons
  • the prison hospice model and how it differs from traditional hospices
  • the use of fellow prisoners as volunteer caregivers

Website: http://www.prisonterminal.com

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 27 February End of the Month Update on the End-of-Life with Dr. Karen Wyatt

In this February Update on End-of-Life Issues, Dr. Wyatt will discuss:

  • Medical schools put more emphasis on pain management education to help reduce over-prescribing of opioid medications, misuse of these drugs and subsequent OD’s, which have doubled in the past decade.
  • Dementia rates appear to be falling in the U.S. according to a recent report in NEJM due to the level of education and improved heart health of the senior population.
  • Prison hospices face a challenge in meeting the needs of dying patients for pain medications due to risks of misuse of meds within the prison walls.
  •  Johns Hopkins study published in JAMA shows impact of stress on family caregivers. New website caretransitions.org has tools and resources for caregivers and also to train “care transitions coaches” who can educate community members on the skills needed to become an effective caregiver. Hopefully this will alleviate some caregiver stress and increase the number of available caregivers.
  • Talk about the newly-released book “When Breath Becomes Air” by 36 y.o. neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi who wrote the book while dying of cancer.
  • Emergency care nurse instituted “The Pause” at a UVa hospital after a death in the ER to show respect and acknowledge the loss of life. Trend is spreading to other hospitals.
  • Similarly a photo circulated on Facebook showing doctors in China bowing to an 11 y.o. boy who asked that, after his death from a brain tumor, his organs be donated to save the lives of others. The medical staff bowed 3 times to honor his bravery and selflessness. Beautiful!
  • Article about homeless people dying on the streets and the need for options to care for those without suitable homes available as they are dying. Discussed the “social model hospice” option. See Episode 23 from February 1st for more info about the social model hospice.