Nearing the end of life and grappling with grief are uniquely personal experiences directly influenced by one’s culture, values and beliefs. Cultural sensitivity has become a growing need in addressing end-of-life issues and guiding patients and families in making important decisions.

To help address these issues, national, state and local healthcare experts and spiritual leaders will gather this month in Montgomery County to discuss strategies and best practices for advancing cultural competence and utilizing patient-centered approaches during end-of-life care. The discussion will take place at the Adventist HealthCare Fall Conference on Nov. 12 in Bethesda, MD.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, minority elders are expected to account for 50 percent of the elderly population by the year 2050. Many will face the challenges of serious illness, making it vital for more high quality, end-of-life care and services to meet the needs of this diverse population.

“Our goal for this year’s conference is to educate those who have the power to make an impact on improving end-of-life care, and to offer tools and resources for those dealing with end-of-life issues,” said Marcos Pesquera, executive director of the Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness. “From clinicians to spiritual care providers to community members, we aim to offer engaging panels and discussions to benefit a broad range of audiences.”

Nationally renowned brain surgeon and author, Dr. Allan Hamilton, also Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Arizona and medical script consultant for the television series “Grey’s Anatomy”, will deliver the keynote address at 10:45 a.m. Conference attendees will receive a complimentary copy of Dr. Hamilton’s first book, “The Scalpel and the Soul”, based on his 30 years of experience as a Harvard-educated brain surgeon.

“Attendees will gain insight into the role that faith and spirituality play in healthcare and healing,” said Ismael Gama, associate vice president of Mission Integration and Spiritual Care at Adventist HealthCare. “To have a deeper understanding that every culture experiences illness, loss and death differently, we can learn how to deliver an enhanced level of healing and comfort to meet each individual’s unique needs.”

This year’s conference entitled “Our Sacred Journey: Advancing Cultural Competence and Patient-Centered Approaches in End-of-Life Care”, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Hyatt Regency Bethesda, hosted by The Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness in partnership with Mission Integration and Spiritual Care.

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