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Christian Perspectives on End of Life: Holding On and Letting Go

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Published on Mar 4, 2014

A panel discussion hosted by Hospice of Michigan, Spectrum Health, and Kuyper College.

End of life decisions can present emotional, medical and religious questions and dilemmas for the dying patient and their family. As advancements in medical science can prolong life, questions and confusion abound surrounding our faith about ordinary and extraordinary means, hydration, pain relief, and palliative care.

This open panel discussion was presented as a service to the community as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Kuyper College.

Dr. Michael Paletta, VP Medical Affairs, Chief Medical Officer, Executive Director, MACQL

Michael Paletta MD FAAHPM is the Vice President of Medical Affairs for Hospice of Michigan, and the Executive Director of research and education programs of the Hospice of Michigan Institute. As Vice President of Medical Affairs, he oversees 10 physicians across the state delivering care to more than 1200 patients each day. Dr. Paletta guides policies and protocols related to patient care. Since joining Hospice of Michigan in 1997 has seen the dramatic shift in acceptance of hospice and palliative care by patients facing lifelimiting illness, and the increase of services available to them.

In his role as Executive Director of the Hospice of Michigan Institute, Dr. Paletta leads a team of researchers and educators developing programs that enhance care for patients and families at this important time of life. Through the use of state-of-the-art technology, the Institute has helped the Hospice of Michigan clinical staff increase the time available to spend with patients and families. Dr. Paletta has led initiatives related to the education of medical professionals on the importance of hospice and palliative care, and raised awareness among legislators and the public on the benefits of hospice care.

LuAnn Arnson, LMSW, CBIS, Bereavement Coordinator, Spectrum Health Hospice & Palliative Care

LuAnn VanderLind Arnson is a master's level clinical social worker. She is a bereavement counselor for Spectrum Health Hospice and Palliative Care and a field liaison for Western Michigan University School of Social Work. Ms. Arnson has worked in the Grand Rapids community for over 37 years as a mental health clinician, medical social worker, group therapist, and children's grief therapist. Her specialty areas are in program development, grief and loss, end of life care, and compassion fatigue and debriefing support for professional's. Ms. Arnson is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist. She is Board President for the Greater Grand Rapids End of Life Coalition and a member of the Board of Social Work at Kuyper College.

Dr. Branson Parler, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Theological Studies, Kuyper College

Branson Parler is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His Ph.D. is from Calvin Theological Seminary. He also holds degrees from the Institute for Christian Studies (M.A., '05) and Cornerstone University (B.A., '02). He is the author of Things Hold Together: John Howard Yoder's Trinitarian Theology of Culture (Herald Press, 2012) and co-editor of the Yoder for Everyone series, which includes Radical Christian Discipleship (Herald Press, 2012) and Revolutionary Christian Citizenship (Herald Press, 2013). Along with John C. Nugent, Branson is a co-founder and contributor to the John Howard Yoder Index project.

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