no Jewish family
is ever alone
when facing terminal illness.


We bring together the hospice, health care and social service communities to meet the medical, cultural and spiritual needs of you and your family.

Watch this space for details on the 11th Annual Shenkman-Weisberg Caring Coalition Conference to be held March 21, 2018.


PLS 2015 STD2

The Best Care Possible

The 10th annual Caring Coalition Conference, The Best Care Possible, to be held on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 in Southfield, Michigan, will bring together nurses, social workers, clergy, case managers, nursing home administrators, and other health care professionals from Southeast Michigan and bordering states. The intent of this conference is to increase understanding of the complex issues related to serious and terminal illness. Conference participants will receive continuing education credits, along with the opportunity to network with others in their field.


Co-chaired by Rabbi Bunny (E.B.) Freedman, director of Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network, and Carolyn Cassin, former president and CEO of the National Hospice Work Group, this symposium will feature national presenters Ira Byock, MD, Sheldon Solomon, PhD, Jessica Zitter, MD and David Pinsky, MD. The program will also include a viewing of the award winning documentary “Extremis” as well as an Experts Panel moderated by hospice medical director Michael Paletta, MD. Panelists include our conference speakers as well as local experts.



Ira Byock, MD, is a leading palliative care physician, author, and public advocate for improving end of life care. He serves as executive director and chief medical officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services. Dr. Byock is professor of Medicine and Community & Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He is former director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and past president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Byock is the author of Dying Well, The Four Things That Matter Most, and The Best Care Possible, as well as numerous academic articles. In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.


Jessica Zitter, MD, advocates for raising awareness of health care practices, medical training and social perceptions of critical and end-of-life care decision-making. She practices critical care and palliative care medicine at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California and has been board-certified in palliative care since 2010. Dr. Zitter is also a writer for The New York Times and Huffington Post. She is featured in the short documentary, “Extremis”, which shows ordinary people grappling with death. She is the author of Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life, and is co-founder of Vital Decisions, a telephone-based counseling service for patients with life-limiting illness.


Sheldon Solomon, PhD, is professor of psychology at Skidmore College. His studies of the effects of the uniquely human awareness of death on behavior have been supported by the National Science Foundation and Ernest Becker Foundation. He is co-author of In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror and The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life. Sheldon is an American Psychological Society Fellow, and a recipient of an American Psychological Association Presidential Citation, a Lifetime Career Award by the International Society for Self and Identity, and the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs Annual Faculty Award.


David J. Pinsky, MD, is the division chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Michigan, as well as the scientific director of the U-M Cardiovascular Center. Pinsky is former director of research for the Cardiovascular Disease Training Program at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. As a result of his groundbreaking research, Dr. Pinsky has earned a reputation as one of the country’s foremost experts in understanding the relationship between blood flow and heart and brain diseases. His research efforts have earned him numerous grants and awards, including the American Heart Association Melvin Marcus Young Investigator Award in Cardiovascular Physiology and the AHA Established Investigator Award.


Corey L. Kennard, MACM, has been involved in healthcare for more than 19 years and is currently Spiritual Care Lead for St. John Hospital and Medical Center. He has a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, and has served for several years as a faculty member of Duke University’s Institute on Care at the End of Life national training program. Pastor Corey is an avid blogger, has been published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, written motivational columns for The Detroit News, and is a contributing columnist for The New York Times. He has been published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, and is the author of “Goliath Must Fall”.


Michael Miller is Regional Chief Mission Officer for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS). His responsibilities include spiritual care and clinical ethics for the five SJMHS in Southeast Michigan. Miller is Regional Community Benefit Ministry Officer, and an advocacy liaison for local, state and federal policy makers. He serves on the Washtenaw County Board of Health and serves as an ex officio member of the Washtenaw County Community Mental Health Board. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Loyola University, a Master of Arts degree in Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology and a Master of Arts degree in Bioethics and Health Policy from Loyola University.


Jeffrey Forman, MD, FACR, is medical director of the Michigan Region of 21st Century Oncology and past medical director of affiliate programs and satellites for the Karmanos Cancer Institute. He earned his medical degree from New York University and completed an internship, residency and fellowship in radiation oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Forman has held faculty appointments at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University. He has been the principal investigator of 12 grants, and has authored nearly 300 professional publications. A national and international presenter, Dr. Forman has received numerous honors and awards.




The Best Care Possible conference is presented by the Caring Coalition, a diverse group of Southeast Michigan hospices, hospitals and community organizations whose purpose is to educate health care professionals and the general public about issues related to hospice and palliative care. Our attendees serve the physical and emotional needs of thousands of patients and their families throughout Southeast Michigan and bordering states. The more than 75 members of the Caring Coalition have worked together since 2008 to present accredited conferences featuring nationally known and local experts and have each attracted more than 900 health care professionals.


The recent 2016 conference featured neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, PhD, geriatrician Joanne Lynn, MD, oncologist Richard Payne, MD, Marcus Engel, and Michael Paletta, MD. The 2015 conference, Caring for the Whole Person featured Rawandan survivor Immaculeee Ilibagiza, grief specialist David Kessler, psychologist Dr. Dale Larson, and cancer researcher Dr. Sofia Merajver. In 2014 Pain, Loss and Suffering presented journalist and author Joshua Prager, physicians Stacie Pinderhughes and Michael Levy, and local grief survivor Gary Weinstein. The 2013 conference, Values, Ethics and Culture at End of Life, with keynote speaker bioethicist Arthur Caplan, focused on the impact of values and ethics on end of life experiences. The 2012 conference, On My Terms: Patient Directed Care focused on patient centered care, and featured nationally recognized hospice physician and author Ira Byock, M.D. Our 2011 conference, The Science of Comfort Care, explored evidence-based practices and philosophies offering comfort to those affected by chronic and life-limiting illness. The 2010 conference, Handle with Care: Powerful Compassionate Care Giving drew attendees to a conversation about best practices in caregiving. In 2009, our conference, The War on Pain, addressed the under treatment of pain in patients with chronic and terminal illness. In 2008, The Same But Different symposium explored the similarities and differences in rituals and customs practiced by different faiths at the end of life.


©2017 Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network