Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

Remembering Robin Williams

September 2, 2014

Tags: Robin Williams, death, suicide, depression, Parkinson

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 08/24/2014

Nearly everyone at the table last week had a personal story to tell about Robin Williams. That surprised me a little, because this gathering of friends was so diverse -- and so Oakland. One person talked about Williams coming over to shake hands with her then-young son who, awestruck and shy, had spotted Williams from afar at a local museum. Another recalled the time Williams broke away from some assembly to help our cane-dependent friend -- yes --- cross the street. A psychotherapist said that most of her clients had talked about Williams' death throughout the week with sadness and affection. And I relayed my story of meeting Williams and his family on a beach many years ago -- they could not have been friendlier to me. (more…)

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How the new health care law may affect the unliving

January 9, 2011

Tags: Health care reform, end of life counseling, Medicare, unliving, death, politicization of death, advance care planning, zombies, Kate Scannell

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 01/09/2011

LAST WEEK, the Obama administration removed a provision from the new health care law that would have encouraged opportunities for patients to consult with doctors about life and death concerns. Under the provision, Medicare would have reimbursed physicians for time spent with patients who wanted to discuss end-of-life treatment and voluntary advance care planning during their annual wellness visits.

Thank goodness -- and Sarah Palin -- that the Obama administration had the timidity to withdraw such a ridiculous provision. Really, why would any mortal being ever want to talk about ... being mortal? Why would anyone ever want to document their own preferences to guide their future medical care when they became unable to speak for themselves?

Besides, whoever heard of a dead person complaining about the insurers and medical personnel who took charge of their health care during their final hours or months within an ICU?

Clearly, it is better to allow our dying process to arrive as one big surprise party for all concerned. (more…)

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