Updates from the chair
Greetings from Debbie Armstrong, Board Chair
Dear EOLONM Friends,
First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Barak for his years of service as Chair and Founding Member of the Board of Directors for EOLONM. His leadership and dedication were instrumental in bringing the organization to where it is today and thereby advancing the movement in New Mexico and providing aid and comfort to so many. I am honored to now step into the role of Board Chair and, along with Barak, MaryKay and our new Board members Sherry Burns and Elizabeth Armijo, to further the mission and vision of EOLONM. I would also like to thank Poem Swentzell and Erika Gergerich for their time as Board members and am grateful for their continued engagement and support for our work.
As I reflect on what we have accomplished, I realize we are entering a new phase of development. Our first two years were focused largely on establishing ourselves as an organization and on educating clinicians and the public on the law and its implementation. Our success in those endeavors is evidenced by the facts that we have been able to hire Julia Bergen as our first full-time executive director as well as support staff; and the uptake and utilization of Medical Aid in Dying has far outpaced our sister states, no matter their population. I am proud that our law serves as a national model but, so too, does our success and effectiveness in implementation.
Now our focus is on enhancing and expanding our ability to support individuals and their families, as well as reaching out to rural and underserved areas of the state, providing education on all end-of-life options in multiple languages. We are partnering with community organizations, enhancing the training of client support and public outreach volunteers, and facilitating the development of a community of clinicians. We are exploring the establishment of a grievance support group and engaging social work students in our work as part of their professional training.
I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for whatever role you play in supporting our mission, whether financially, as a volunteer or by spreading the word and talking with your friends and family and making referrals when appropriate. All efforts are important and appreciated.
Updates from the Executive Director
News From Julia
Dear Friends of EOLONM:
It is a pleasure to be connecting with you as we step into the fall season.
As you know, EOLONM was established in 2021 when a group of passionate, determined folks gathered to design and build an organization dedicated to advance health care planning – education, support and including medical aid in dying for the terminally ill – following passage of the Elizabeth Whitefield Medical Aid in Dying Act.
Since beginning my new role with EOLONM, I have discovered an extraordinary community of caring people who place the highest value on health equity, access to information and self-determination. Whether tabling or presenting at an event or supporting a client through their end-of-life journey, EOLONM folks are dedicated to respecting every person’s choices – with love, compassion, and care. Their work is essential – addressing and bearing witness to the very essence of our human experience – planning and preparing for one’s end of life – from the practical to the profound.
As we close out 2023 and look to 2024, we are excited to expand our work with marginalized communities and people living in rural areas, providing opportunities for clinicians to share best practices and support, assisting clients and their loved ones to find grief and bereavement resources, and attracting new donors and volunteers from around the state.
If you would like to learn more or get involved, please reach out via our website.
And, please consider supporting EOLONM. Help ensure all New Mexicans have the support, information and care they need.
Help Support EOLONM!
Navigating Grief and Loss
The emotional weight of grief and loss can be daunting. At EOLONM, we want everyone – staff, volunteers and clients – to have the resources and support to navigate the complex realms of grief and loss. Our upcoming EOLONM book event with celebrated author, Gina Moffa, explores the challenging landscape of grief and loss with wisdom and care.
Join us for the Zoom conversation on Wednesday, November 8th at 1:00 (MST)
“Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated. It resists the demands to remain passive and still. We move in jangled, unsettled, and riotous ways when grief takes hold of us. It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.”
Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow.
EOLONM Community News
Welcome New Board, Staff and Volunteers!
The EOLONM Community is growing! A warm welcome to Sherry Burns and Elizabeth Armijo who recently joined the EOLONM Board of Directors and to Elaine Clanon, our new Warmline Dispatcher. Welcome!
We also extend a hearty welcome to 15 new EOLONM (POE and CSV) Volunteers who have just completed three intensive onboarding training sessions led by our Client Support Volunteer Committee Chair, Sherry Burns; Client Support Liaison and Board Treasurer/Secretary, MaryKay Brady; and Client Support Volunteers, Donna Agnew and Deborah Dungan. This formidable team introduced our new recruits to EOLONM’s history and best practices in end of life options and care. We are immensely grateful to this new cadre of volunteers for choosing to work with and support EOLONM’s work and community.
New Board Members
Elizabeth Armijo is a long-time health promotion advocate and community organizer in New Mexico. Her career and life passion have been rooted in promoting access to quality health care, women’s empowerment and racial justice. Elizabeth has worked in different capacities with Compassion & Choices since 2012. READ MORE
Elaine Clanon, CFNP
Warm Line Dispatcher
Elaine is a native New Mexican. She obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Nursing from the University of New Mexico. During her 30 year career, highlights include caring for veterans on the medical oncology floor; volunteering for Camp Enchantment, a camp for children who had cancer; and working as a hospice nurse. READ MORE
Quality of Life at the End of Life: A Full Spectrum of Care
An article by Robin Swift, EOLONM Administrative Director
Advance health care planning offers the best avenue for New Mexicans to ensure that their wishes for care at the end of their lives are documented and honored. Many New Mexicans learn about their end-of-life options through the work of EOLONM’s Public Outreach and Education (POE) volunteers. At community presentations and tabling events, they provide general information about the spectrum of options in preparing for one’s end of life.
Robin Swift, MPH
The inquiries that come to the EOLONM warmline (505-393-1321) or the general email inbox (email@example.com) address a full range of issues. Our warmline dispatcher, Elaine Clanon, answers client education questions related to legal requirements, advance health care planning provisions, or other community resources that are available to help with informed decision-making. Many calls and emails address the specific requirements of the New Mexico EOLO Act, most often residency requirements and whether their illness is terminal in the eyes of the law.
Access to information leads to better planning, better planning improves access to care, and better care supports clients’ rights to have their wishes honored as best they can be.
Many callers want to ensure that their advance care planning documents are complete and comprehensive. We caution that advance directive wishes to use MAID may not be honored if they develop any issues with their mental capacity to make decisions, as the law requires. We review alternatives to MAID with clients who seek them, and we refer callers to resources that help them have conversations with their families and providers about their end-of-life wishes. Clinicians and social workers also call with specific questions related to MAID, medication assistance and other resources.
Client Support Volunteers (CSV)
Client support volunteers (CSVs) vastly expand the spectrum of care that EOLONM provides. This work calls on their skills as thoughtful, compassionate listeners, knowledgeable teachers, and gentle advocates. After extensive training and individual mentoring, CSVs can provide individual support to clients seeking hospices, palliative care or prescribers who support MAID. CSVs listen to family concerns, they explain the range of options including the MAID ingestion process in detail, they teach what is involved in voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED), and they gently remind clients of the necessity for funeral home arrangements made in advance. With the client’s permission they check in with caregivers as well, ensuring that they understand the client’s choices, and have access to grief support after death. More experienced CSVs are always available to help solve problems that arise in client support work. The CSVs and warmline dispatcher meet monthly to share their experiences of this work, to discuss its impact and to receive informed guidance.
Many EOLONM CSVs are certified as end-of-life doulas – companions willing to visit and be with people at the end of their lives. In some instances, pairs of EOLONM doulas have attended MAID ingestions when the prescriber cannot be there. Such volunteers receive additional training in what to expect, the limits of their role, and how to process those experiences.
Out & About
"Out & About" with EOLONM
EOLONM's Public Outreach/Education (POE) Team
Our POE Committee Volunteers travel across the state tabling and speaking at at community events, health fairs and more to expand awareness and share resources about end of life options and care. Their work is at the heart of EOLONM’s mission to provide information, education and support for all End of Life Options, including Medical Aid in Dying (MAID). From Aztec and Farmington to Roswell and Carlsbad, our dedicated team have been reaching out and connecting. If you would like to invite an EOLONM POE Volunteer to table or speak to your group, organization, association, church, friends, workplace, etc., please reach out via our website
Thank you to all our devoted volunteers!
Social Media News
Let's Get Social
The topics of death and dying are most often subjects that the public wants to avoid discussing. We all saw what happened when Barbie mentioned the “D Word” in her bright pink movie world. . . everything came to a screeching halt.
Here’s the big news: everyone dies. Talking about it won’t make it happen sooner, but learning about it can help us deal with it in ways that are beneficial to ourselves and our loved ones.
End of Life Options New Mexico (EOLONM) is proud to be a resource for people wanting to learn more about advance health care planning and end of life healthcare issues. Our efforts include both Facebook and Instagram accounts, where we continue to engage, educate, and (sometimes) entertain. If you are on social media, we would love to connect with you. Find us at facebook.com/EOLONM or instagram.com/eolonm
Josephine Levy is the Creative Director of MixedCandy Media and volunteers her skills and wide array of experience with EOLONM.
Gifts to EOLONM Made in the Name of Others
Did you know that you can designate your tax-deductible donation to EOLONM in the name of others you would like honor or memorialize? Whether you choose to honor someone who is living or memorialize someone who has died, you can make a donation and indicate the name of the person you would like to acknowledge in this way. The following designated donations were made this quarter:
- Memorial to Nancy Arseneault by Michael Arseneault $1,000
- Memorial from Catherine Stein $100 in memory of John K. Stein