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Infectious Diseases

Do your loved ones know your end of life wishes? How do you guide patients and their families through making those same decisions? The pandemic has impacted the way we have end of life conversations. Meetings with families that were once in person now happen by phone. Discussions with patients are rushed, and human connections are obscured by masks, googles, and gloves. The pandemic has also brought healthcare professionals face to face with their own mortality. Reports of those on the frontlines updating wills and writing advance directives made headlines against a backdrop of soaring cases, and a scarcity of PPE. Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider is an internal medicine physician at Crossover Health in San Francisco, California. She's passionate about improving end of life experiences for patients and their families, and, in 2017, founded the End Well Project, an initiative dedicated to the belief that all people should experience the end of life in a way that reflects their goals. She is also the founder of the Ungerleider Palliative Care Education Fund, which supports innovative programs that further palliative care education. Dr. Ungerleider funded Extremis, a short documentary about end of life decision making in the intensive care unit that was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award and two Emmy Awards. She executive produced End Game, a short documentary on hospice and palliative care, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and was acquired by Netflix. Have questions about end of life planning, or an experience you'd like to share? Post them in the comments. Dr. Ungerleider will be responding on June 4, 2020.