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Nearly 150 attendees representing 33 agencies and programs throughout the state of Maryland and Washington, D.C., attended the 2014 Southern Maryland Hospice and Palliative Care Conference recently held at the College of Southern Maryland’s Prince Frederick Campus.

Hosted by Calvert Hospice and Palliative Medicine of Southern Maryland, the conference focused on hospice and palliative care as well as other end-of-life issues.

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Ira Byock, a leading palliative care physician, author and public advocate for improving care through the end of life. Byock’s first book, “Dying Well,” has become a standard in the field of hospice and palliative care. The second, “The Four Things That Matter Most,” is used as a counseling tool by palliative care and hospice programs, as well as within pastoral care. His most recent book, “The Best Care Possible,” tackles the crisis that surrounds serious illness and dying in America and his quest to transform care through the end of life, a press release states.

“Having Dr. Byock as the keynote speaker demonstrates our commitment to the importance of increasing utilization of palliative and hospice care in our healthcare system,” said Calvert Hospice Executive Director Brenda Laughhunn in the release. “We will continue to seek opportunties to partner with other Calvert healthcare providers to bring palliative and hospice care to those in our community who need and deserve it.”

In addition to Byock, this year’s presenters included: Dr. Mary Lynn McPherson, professor and vice chair of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; Dr. Patricia Tomsko Nay, executive director and acting medical director of the Office of Health Care Quality; Sarah Simmons, director of education and quality, Calvert Hospice; Dr. Danielle Doberman, director of the George Washington University Palliative Medicine Program; and Judith A. Skretny, director of palliative care, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

The CSM Theater Troupe wrapped up the day with a theatrical reading of the play “Dusk,” one of Bryan Harnetiaux’s trilogy of plays about the end of life. The one-act play is a story about an aging father, a fractured family and their struggles with health care decision-making.

Sponsors of this year’s event included: Calvert Memorial Hospital, University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, PNC Bank, Asbury-Solomons At Home, Circle of Care, DirectMail.com, Marrick Homes, Medline Industries, ProCare, Raley, Watts and O’Neill Insurance and Financial Services, MedStar Health/Hospice of St. Mary’s and Visiting Angels.

For more information about Calvert Hospice or Palliative Medicine of Southern Maryland, call 410-535-0892, or go to calverthospice.org.