Widener Law Review Health Law and the Elderly Symposium Draws Large Crowd
Web Editor - Published: March 30, 2010
“Our speakers are experts, and I am grateful that they took the time to appear here today,” said Associate Professor Thaddeus M. Pope in his opening remarks on Friday, March 26th to a packed Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom on Widener Law’s Delaware campus. Pope’s remarks followed an introduction from Widener Law Review Editor-in-Chief Dawn Kurtz Crompton as the "Health Law and the Elderly: Managing Risk at the End of Life" symposium began.

The program featured eight sessions, beginning in the morning with Dr. Patricia A. Bomba, the Vice President and Medical Director of Geriatrics for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Bomba spoke about the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) Program that has been implemented in the state of New York, emphasizing, “Individuals have the right to make their own medical decisions,” and “It’s about process and person-centered care.”

The second session, moderated by Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs Susan L. Goldberg, dealt with Healthcare Decisions Law. The featured speakers were Charles P. Sabatino, Director of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, and the Honorable Edward D. Reibman of the Lehigh Court of Common Pleas. Sabatino gave a brief history of the legal issues surrounding end-of-life care and decision-making. Judge Reibman presented the audience with facts from a complicated case he heard involving a woman with multiple sclerosis who had become a paraplegic. He concluded his talk by candidly declaring, “These are hard cases.”

The final morning session, moderated by Associate Professor and Executive Director of Widener Law’s Institutes Andrew J. Fichter, dealt with the clinical reality of implementing the treatment instructions dictated by advance directives. Donna Casey, Nurse Manager at the Wilmington Hospital ICU and Co-Chair of the Christiana Care Health System Ethics Committee, and Eileen M. Gleasner, Nurse Practitioner at Van Buren Medical Associates, shared their thoughts and experiences on the subject.

After a break for lunch, the afternoon portion of the program opened with an introduction from student Lindsey Anderson, the Symposium Coordinator and Articles Editor for the Widener Law Review. The Honorable Susan Del Pesco, retired Superior Court of Delaware judge, spoke as part of a session entitled, “Ethical Issues in Representing/Treating the Incapacitated Client/Patient”.

The fifth session, entitled “Effective End of Life Communication,” was moderated by Professor John G. Culhane, the Director of Widener Law’s Health Law Institute, and featured Timothy Quill, Director of Palliative Care Program and Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry and Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Dr. Bomba. Following that, Susan Lloyd, President & CEO of Delaware Hospice, moderated “The State of Hospice and Palliative Medicine,” featuring Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel for the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization Jonathan Keyserling, Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad School of Law Professor Kathy Cerminara, and Assistant U.S. for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Margaret Hutchinson.

The program closed with talks by Judith Schwarz, Clincal Coordinator for Compassion & Choices of New York, and Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices. A wine and cheese reception followed the program.

The Widener University School of Nursing and Widener University School of Law’s Widener Law Review presented the symposium in association with the Medical Society of Delaware, the Delaware End of Life Coalition, and Delaware Hospice.