Firefighters’ union seeks volunteer grief counselors

The Uniform Fire Officer Association, Local 854, the union that represents firefighters who are officers in New York City, has asked for help in providing counselors for the survivors of the members it lost in the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.

There are over 160 children left without a parent among these officers alone. The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) of the City University of New York has been working with the staff of the union to coordinate help.

The union needs counselors living or working in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. The fire officers’ union has counseling centers in Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, but many of the families of the bereaved are finding it too difficult to uproot children and travel to these centers.

Specifically, there is a need for counselors who specialize in bereavement, but also for all counselors, including those experienced in working with children and adolescents. Those who would like to volunteer can call the PSC office at (212) 354-1252.

Michigan groups publish end-of-life guide

A coalition of health care groups in Michigan has begun the distribution of a new physician guide aimed at providing the best possible end-of-life care for Michigan residents.

The 48-page booklet, The Michigan Physician Guide to End-of-Life Care, written by Michigan experts in end-of-life care, was created to help physicians, patients, and families — the word "family" being understood in the broadest sense — deal more effectively with dying and death. The book was mailed to every licensed physician in Michigan and will also be delivered to all medical students in Michigan’s four medical schools. About 40,000 booklets in all will be handed out.

The book was developed by the Michigan State Medical Society, the Michigan Osteopathic Association, the Michigan Department of Community Health, and American Physicians Assurance. It contains seven chapters on topics including communication, advance care planning, pain and other symptoms, palliative care, withdrawing or withholding care, hospice, and emotions and spirituality. Also included are "For My Patients" pages that physicians may photocopy and give to patients to help them with a variety of sensitive end-of-life situations.

"Focusing on communication with patients, advance care planning, and spirituality, the guide effectively deals with the complex issues of end-of-life care," says James K. Haverman Jr., director of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The entire text of The Michigan Physician Guide to End-of-Life Care can be downloaded from the Michigan State Medical Society web site at www.msms.org under "End-of-Life Care."