Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), in partnership with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Forbes Hospice and the Area Agency on Aging, will present “Dusk”, a theatrical performance that explores end of life decision making through the experience of a typical American family, on Wednesday, November 9, at 5:30 P.M in the hospital’s Magovern Auditorium. Tickets for the event are free, but registration is required by calling or emailing Keri Harmicar, AGH Northside Partnership Coordinator, at 412-330-2535 or [email protected].
“Dusk” is part of a series of programs that the AGH Northside Partnership initiated with the Northside Community in 2009 regarding end of life planning. In collaboration with several local organizations, it presented “Vesta” in 2009 , a play also written by Bryan Hartineaux which focused on end-of-life issues in the African American Community . In addition, the AGH Northside Partnership brought “Closure” , a Jewish Healthcare Foundation program regarding end of life planning, to the Northside African American Community in 2010. “Closure” occurred over a six month period with a series of dialogues regarding various end of life topics.
“Dusk” explores on both a medical and personal level the difficulties involved in coming to terms with making life-sustaining treatment option decisions. “Dusk” is the story of an aging father and a fractured family, and their struggles with health care decision-making. Gil Everette has had a heart attack, and is now in congestive heart failure. On the eve of his 65th birthday Gil and his adult children, with a medical social worker on hand, explore his wishes regarding life sustaining treatment options, as he is challenged by his children to fill out and sign a physician’s orders form. “Dusk” is a thoughtful exploration of this familiar family tableau. The story is told with a keen awareness of the medical and legal problems, yet is rich in character and humor.
Following the reading, there will be a panel discussion by: Randy Hebert MD, Medical Director , Forbes Hospice and Division Director, Palliative Care, Department of Medicine, WPAHS; Justin Engelka, Hospice and Palliative Care Manager, AGH ; Mildred Morrison, Director of the Area Agency on Aging ;and Nancy Zionts, Chief Program Officer, Jewish Healthcare Foundation, that will allow the audience to ask questions about the play and specifically about the ethical, medical and related issues surrounding end-of –life.
“Part of our mission is to explore the myriad of issues surrounding death and dying,” says Debra Caplan, Senior Vice President, of Allegheny General Hospital, who oversees the AGH Northside Community Partnership “Producing this play is a great way to start a conversation focusing on end- of- life decision-making with one’s family and physician”.
“We encourage people to attend with a significant other: a spouse, grandparent, son or daughter, or other person who has played a prominent role in their lives.”
Dramatic theatrical presentations stimulate conversations on end-of-life issues; “Dusk” increases our understanding, particularly associated with physician’s order with the complex decision-making forms, advance directives, and the like.
Written by Spokane, Washington playwright Bryan Harnetiaux, “Dusk” premiered in Spokane in 2007 where theatre critic Jim Kershner said: “This play delivers exactly what it promises. It puts you inside what feels like a real, honest, family crises, and it makes you grapple with an issue that will be even more common as the baby boomer generation comes of age.” Spokesman Review, April 29, 2007 (“Playwright’s ‘Dusk’ a stellar work”), at B6.