In some of her final words before using medical aid in dying, Karen Oelschlaeger made a powerful statement advocating for improvements to Vermont’s Act 39. Vermont Public Radio (VPR) reporter Howard Weiss-Tisman interviewed her about a week before she died. VPR's report, published on April 20, includes statements from PCV Board Member, Dr. Diana Barnard and PCV President, Betsy Walkerman.
(Click to read and listen)
Karen first contacted Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) last fall as she was navigating the Act 39 approval process with the hope that sharing her story would help others. She recorded her story in a video we produced and posted on our website a few months ago.
Karen was a prosecutor and advocate in the field of domestic violence. She loved spending time in the mountains and was strong, determined, and very grateful for Act 39. We mourn the loss of her commitment to service, her sharp wit, and her gentle nature.
We encourage you to help us let Karen’s family know how deeply meaningful and important it is that she continued to advocate for improvements to Vermont's Act 39 as long as she could. Please use our Contact Form to share your words, and we will compile all the messages to convey to her family on your behalf. You can also honor Karen by sharing the VPR story and the link to her video on the PCV website with your friends.
In these small ways, we can let her family know that Karen’s voice is making a difference.
NBC Channel 5 reports: Advocates propose three changes to Vermont's Aid in Dying law
Thank you to NBC Channel 5 for helping to bring medical-aid-in-dying stories to life. In this recent segment, they report on why Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) is proposing tune-ups to Act 39.
Among the changes proposed in Senate Bill 74 is an adjustment to the patient’s timeline so that dying people won’t have to wait an extra 48 hours before receiving their medication after already spending weeks at appointments, filing a written request, and obtaining confirmation by two doctors.
In the words of Duncan Allen-Burns (son of Dee Allen whose video is featured on PCV’s website)... “Those 48 hours were a nightmare. Just the sheer emotional toll it took on her [his mother] was so painful to watch... I couldn’t be more appreciative of Act 39 and the work that you are doing. My mom was passionate about it.”
Hospice Volunteers and Staff Learn about Medical Aid in Dying
This spring, PCV is sponsoring several educational events for hospice personnel. A few weeks ago, PCV Board Member Dr. Jaina Clough hosted more than 50 UVM Hospice volunteers on zoom. Participants discussed the special role of hospice workers in providing neutral, trusted support, both in the qualification process under Act 39 and in connection with medical aspects of the process.
Two more sessions will be hosted by PCV Board Chair, Toni Kaeding, MS RN, in April and May for hospice organizations in Rutland and Brattleboro.
Act 39 patients consistently tell us how much they value the comfort their hospice workers provide. Thank you to all the people and organizations that make that work possible.