The Healthcare Advisory Council is a group of prominent professionals covering an interdisciplinary spectrum of the healthcare community from across the country. As Compassion & Choices aims to further develop messaging, create products and programs and offer resources and tools to further credibility within the clinical community, the counsel and perspectives of the collective Healthcare Advisory Council will prove to be invaluable in the end-of-life care space.

The core work of the Healthcare Advisory Council includes, but is not be limited to, the following:

  • Review and critique messaging, content and communications designed for dissemination to the healthcare community.
  • Offer counsel to the organization on the development of policy, programs, tools, and resources, as applicable.
  • Write letters to editors, compose opinion pieces, participate in media interviews, offer legislative testimony and serve as guest speakers and/or panelists at national or community events, as applicable.
  • Disclose any conflicts or concerns.

Council Staff Liaison:
Robert Drake, MDiv, MSci, Medical Outreach Manager

Chandana Banerjee, MD, MPA

Palliative Care, City of Hope Medical Center

Chandana Banerjee, M.D., M.P.A., is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, specializing in hospice and palliative care. She developed the City of Hope Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship. She also established the Cancer Pain Rotation for Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship, which is now part of the core curriculum for the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Hospice & Palliative Medicine fellowship program. Dr. Banerjee also developed and directed the End of Life Symposium which was held at City of Hope in September 2019 and has now been endowed for multiple years. She is the physician lead for Schwartz Rounds at City of Hope and serves as chair on the End of Life Option Act Subcommittee. She also serves on the Continuing Medical Education and the Ethics and Quality of Life committees.

Dr. Jillian Blueford

Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver

Dr. Jillian Blueford is a clinical assistant professor for the school counseling program at the University of Denver, a licensed professional counselor in Colorado, and is certified in thanatology (death, dying, and bereavement). Over the years, Dr. Blueford has provided grief counseling to individuals of all backgrounds in various settings, including a hospice bereavement center, schools, outpatient facilities, and currently in private practice in the Denver area. Further, Dr. Blueford is a grief and loss scholar, who has conducted research and scholarship via her dissertation, peer-reviewed publications, webinars, podcast features, and several regional, national, and international presentations.

Venerable Zhiyun Cai, PhD, BCC, PCHAC, AIHCP Certified Grief Counselor

Palliative Care Chaplain, Stanford University Hospital

Bhikkhuni Dr. Zhiyun Cai is a palliative care chaplain at Stanford Hospital, a scholar and a practitioner. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. She is also the first Buddhist foreigner to earn the certification of the Board Certificated Chaplain (BCC) through the Association of Professional Chaplains in the United States. 

Bhikkhuni Dr. Zhiyun ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Zen Buddhist tradition in 1993 in China. She had received three primary Buddhist schools’ training (Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Vajrayana Buddhism) in her early monastic life. She was invited to the United States in 2000 by a Buddhist organization. She was impressed by the extensive mindfulness practice of westerners. She conducted researches and completed her dissertation on “Doctrinal Analysis of the Origin and Evolution of the Buddhist Forest Meditation Tradition with a Special Reference to the Thai Present Forest Ajahns.” This is the first research to discuss the similarities and the differences between the Buddhist original forest meditation teachings from the Pāli Canon and the modern meditation techniques that are widely applied in the United States. The research provides rich content on the meditation both to scholars and practitioners. 

Bhikkhuni Dr. Zhiyun received her interfaith Chaplaincy Resident and Palliative Care specialty training at Stanford Health Care. She provides compassionate, professional, and effective spiritual care services to patients with serious illness for more than ten years. She has rich experience in palliative and hospice spiritual care. Bhikkhuni Dr. Zhiyun also offers mindfulness and self-compassion courses to the hospital staff and local university students to increase their resilience for living a better life. She is involved in training new interfaith chaplain at the hospital, works with local Buddhist communities, hospital palliative medicine teams to increase patients’ quality of life, valued their end of life decision, assist them with a dignified and peaceful death. Bhikkhuni Dr. Zhiyun traveled extensively in the United States and overseas to provide spiritual care, retreat, and assist the Buddhist communities in establishing Buddhist Compassionate Care Center to patients with life-threatening diseases. She serves in the Wellness Committee at Stanford Health Care. Her clinical research focus on mindfulness training for increasing the quality of life of the Palliative Care patients, Self-Calming Rituals, Competency Cultural Education, and Asian Perceptive on Death and Dying. Chaplain Yun recently earned the Palliative Care and Hospice Advanced Certification (PCHAC)from APC and became one of only forty-four such certification holders in the United States

Debra Dunn, MSN, MBA, RN

Healing the Children, NJ

Debra Dunn, MSN, MBA, RN, CNOR, is the OR Education Specialist at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey.  She previously served as OR staff nurse, OR Educator, OR Manager, Perioperative Manager, and Perioperative Director in other hospitals.  Debra is on the AORN Journal Editorial Board, has served on the AORN Syntegrity Task Force, and is currently Co-Chair of the AORN Continuing Education Approval Committee (CEAC) Task Force.   She previously served on 3 Competency and Credentialing Institute’s committees as well as their Board of Directors for 6 years.  Debra is a peer reviewer for 4 perioperative nursing journals, has published over 45 articles, and has presented at AORN’s national Surgical Conference & Expo as well as locally.  Previously, the AORN Journal awarded Debra the First Place award in their Clinical Category, and the Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing awarded Debra the Mary Hanna Memorial Journalism Award for First Place in their Clinical Category.  Debra won the New Jersey Governor’s 1999 Nursing Merit Award, Acute Care/RN Category; and the Francis Black Humanitarian Award in Healthcare for a recycling program for developing countries.  At least once a year Debra spends a week abroad performing surgical missions with Healing the Children, New Jersey.  Lifelong learning through formal and informal education programs is a major theme in Debra’s life, and she enjoys paying it forward.  Debra was Valedictorian of her nursing program, is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, and has been certified since 1996.

Debra comes to Compassion & Choices via her husband’s death.  He also was an OR nurse, and she felt his death was horrible and shouldn’t have been so. She then researched what she could do about it, found Compassion & Choices, and has been an active volunteer ever since.  She fought 6 ½ years in New Jersey with Compassion & Choices and others to have the bill passed into law. She has written Op Eds, been interviewed on TV news stations and for newspapers, and is “all in” with medical aid in dying and educating the public.

Curt Eschels, MAc, MST

Retired Acupuncturist, Olympia, WA

Curt Eschels began his career practicing acupuncture in 2000. He has treated patients with the full range of health issues, from pain to internal organ dysfunction to emotional imbalances. His interest in treating people near the end of their lives has grown recently, which drew him to volunteer with
Compassion & Choices. Curt also served as President of Washington state’s professional association for six years, and is a member of the national professional association.

Prior to his private sector work, he worked in the public sector on energy policy, including five years as Chairman of Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council and four years as a Special Assistant to the Governor on energy policy and radioactive waste disposal. He was nonpartisan staff to Washington State’s Senate Energy and Utilities Committee during the 1970s and 1980s.

Curt holds a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture from the NW Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and a Master of Science in Teaching degree, majoring in physics, from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Angela Forcucci, Pharm D

Advance Care Pharmacy, Escondido, CA

Angela Forcucci, Pharm.D., received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology from University of California, Santa Barbara. She then attended University of California, San Francisco, where she earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1997. She completed a one year pharmacy practice residency at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA.

Her roles in pharmacy have encompassed many different therapeutic disciplines. At Kaiser, she worked primarily as a hospital inpatient pharmacist. Additionally, she staffed several outpatient clinics and established an HIV clinic that employed a pharmacist to assist with patient care. She spent a few years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medication specialist, supporting the sales staff.

Then, in 2001, she began working in for an independent pharmacy providing support to hospice and home health agencies.

Since 2011, she has been employed by Advance Care Pharmacy in Escondido,
where she is the Director of Infusion Services. This pharmacy prepares and
dispenses medications for over 150 hospices in Southern California. Angela runs the sterile compounding/infusion department and assists with non-sterile
compounding specific for hospice patients.

California’s End of Life Option Act (EOLOA) passed in 2016, and she has been involved in medication preparation for medical aid in dying. She works closely with hospices, prescribers, and patients requesting medications under the EOLOA. For over four years, she has been a patient advocate assisting patients identify
participating physicians, working with third party insurance groups (including
Medi-Cal/Medicaid) for reimbursement, and counseling patients on the
preparation and ingestion of their medications.

Michael D. Fratkin, MD, FAAHPM

ResolutionCare Network/ResolutionCare Institute, California

Approaching life and the practice of medicine with love and respect, Michael D. Fratkin,MD is a builder, an innovator and a dreamer.

(Not necessarily in that order.)

Standing on a foundation of inspiration and burnout, Dr. Fratkin began creating ResolutionCare Network to build capacity for capable and compassionate palliative care in the rural Northern California community in which he made his home. He has been a transformative and provocative voice for improving the experience of people and families facing the completion of their lives while ensuring that the meaningful professional experiences of those providing care is of equal importance. Furthermore, ResolutionCare Network is revolutionizing healthcare enterprise development as a Certified B Corp launched with a crowdfunding campaign and using technology to connect people to people wherever they are.

Al Giwa, LLB, MD, MBA, MBE

Department of Emergency Medicine Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Giwa is a graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (MD), George Washington School of Business (MBA), and the Clarkson University/Icahn School of Medicine (MBE).  He majored in Philosophy at Clark University and entered medicine initially to pursue a career in Bioethics after leaving law (LLB-University of Ilorin).   He is an officer in the US Army Reserve where he was previously the Medical Director for the Combat Medic Instructors program and is currently the Command Surgeon and head of Medical Innovation of the Innovation Command of the USAR. 

His specific professional interests are Law and Ethics in Healthcare, Combat Medicine, Resuscitation/Critical Care in the Emergency Department and Difficult Airway Management.   He is a member of the Mount Sinai Ethics Committee, a Fellow of both the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and American College of Emergency Physicians, an editor of several peer reviewed journals in critical care, trauma, and emergency medicine, and board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is the Inaugural Chair of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine’s Ethics Committee, and a member of AAEM’ s Legal, Clinical Practice, and International Committees.

Nate Hinerman, PhD, MFT

University of San Francisco, Golden Gate University, San Francisco End of Life Network

Nate Hinerman, PhD, LMFT, is an Associate Professor of Psychology and former Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Golden Gate University, San Francisco. He is also on the faculty at the University of San Francisco, teaching in the Nursing School, and in the Religious Studies Department. His research intermingles philosophical and psychological approaches to topics such as human suffering, dying, and loss. Some of his most recent books include: On Suffering: An Inter-disciplinary Dialogue on Narrative and the Meaning of Suffering, (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2012), New Perspectives on the End of Life: Essays on Care and the Intimacy of Dying (2013), and The Presence of the Dead in Our Lives (New York: Rodopi, 2012). In 2016, Dr. Hinerman had three volumes published, New Perspectives on the Relationship between Pain, Suffering, and Metaphor (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press), Blunt Traumas: Negotiating Suffering and Death (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press), and Care, Loss, and the End of Life (Amsterdam: Brill Publishing).

The international conference he organizes annually on Hospice and Palliative Care, the largest of its kind, is in its 19th year. He also serves as Chair of the San Francisco End of Life Network, a community-based support and education group for hospice and palliative care professionals and patients, now in its 21st year ( . Dr. Hinerman is also a psychotherapist with Psychiatric Alternatives (San Francisco) helping clients transition amidst loss.

Jiewen (Janice) Huang, MSW, ASW, Ed.D.

National Association of Social Workers, Asian Pacific Islanders Social Work Council

Janice Huang is an Associate Clinical Social Worker. She earned her BA and Masters in Social Work, concentrating on health and mental health.  She has worked in various settings, including Shanti’s Women’s Cancer Program, UCSF Oncology Radiation, home health, hospice and palliative, medical inpatient, and UCSF Psychiatry, etc.  Janice currently works as a behavioral health clinician at a primary care clinic and a medical social worker in a home health agency. On the educational level, Janice is pursuing an Ed. D in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis on Organizational Development.  She also serves as the Regional Assistant  Director for Region B of the California Chapter of NASW, and as a steering committee member with API Social Work Council, Northern CA, where she assisted as a co-chair for about three years. When she finds time, Janice continues to provide services as a volunteer for Mission Hospice and Home Care and Chinese American Coalition for Compassion Care.

Eunju Lee, LCSW, MA, MS

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Eunju Lee received her MS from University of Chicago in Social Service Administration and later, an MS from
American University in Organizational Development. She began her social work career in human and
labor rights in her native Korea before working with domestic violence survivors in Asian communities of
NYC. After volunteering with a hospice residence for the homeless, she found her calling in end of life
care and transitioned to hospice work. She has been a field social worker in community and inpatient settings and worked as a social work manager for a large hospice agency in NYC. After a decade of hospice work, she currently works as the palliative care social worker for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is also a group facilitator for Gilda’s Club, serves as a mentor to NYU’s Zelda Foster’s PELC program for the past several years, supervised a number of MSW students, presented in various local and national conferences on hospice and palliative care, and sits on the board of SWPHN

Betty Lim, MD

Geriatrics and Palliative Care

Stephanie Marquet, MD

Kaiser Permanente East Bay

Dr. Marquet has been in practice in the Bay Area for over 20 years. While at Kaiser Permanente she served as Palliative Care Inpatient Attending, Associated Hospice Medical Director, and Home Health Medical Director. She served as founding Physician Lead for EOLOA Program in Kaiser East Bay and was instrumental in paving the way for early goal setting and collaboration between the key stakeholders of ELO program, Hospice and Palliative Care. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She currently serves as Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente and Vitas Hospice, and is a presenter for both Compassion & Choices and The Conversation Project.

Csaba Mera, MD

Mera Consulting, LLC

Csaba is an accomplished, experienced, outcomes-driven healthcare leader with skills built on a foundation of quality, evidence-based medicine, cost efficiency, innovation and performance excellence. Twenty-three years as a clinician, caring for patients, followed by twenty plus years as a physician executive allows him to bring experience and expertise to all aspects of medical management, cost management and healthcare quality. At Cambia Health Solutions, Csaba built the nation’s first palliative care program that got the attention of Capitol Hill and convinced CMS to address a number of issues around reimbursement for end-of-life care. Most recently, Csaba wrote and executive produced a feature film called “Here Awhile.”

Karen Morin, RN

Retired Oncology and Hospice RN

Karen Morin, RN is a Patient Advocate and End of Life Counselor, a retired Oncology and Hospice RN she began her health care career in Radiology both clinical and corporate work. After completing her nursing education held positions in an AIDS Care unit and the Oncology and BMT Unit at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and had extensive experience as a home hospice nurse.  At weSPARK Cancer Support Center she served as the Oncology Resource Nurse and facilitated metastatic and caregiver support groups at the Center in Sherman Oaks, California.  She was widowed in 2007 when her husband and father of her three children died of a brain tumor.

 She has been an active volunteer for Compassion & Choices since 2013 as a vocal medical advocate for Medical Aid in Dying legislation and worked towards its passage in California.  Ms. Morin served as the Southern California Team Leader of the End-of-Life Volunteers for Compassion & Choices; and now is part of the Access Action Network, advocating and speaking to community, senior groups and hospices on all End of Life Options and California’s Medical Aid in Dying Law. She serves on a number of Nonprofit Boards and Committees including Planned Parenthood LA the Board of Directors at weSPARK.

Evan Pulvers, MD

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center

Evan Pulvers, MD:  Originally from Oregon, a family doctor trained in NYC and Northern California, currently working in Northern Arizona in Family Practice.  Happily dog mom to Valk the 2 year old dog.  Practitioner of very slow recreational running.  Domestic partner to an avid bread making maniac and  fast recreational runner.

Sylvia Romm, MD, MPH

Atlantic Health Care System

Sonja Richmond

Dr. Sonja Richmond has been a Board Certified Internist and Hospice Medical Director for more than fifteen years. In that time, she has worked in roles across internal medicine and hospice care as well as in subacute rehab centers and assisted living facilities as the medical director. These different roles have allowed her to understand the many perspectives when it comes to providing the highest quality care and especially end-of-life care. Both as a doctor and in her personal life, Dr. Richmond has a passion for people and leads with her heart. She understands that medicine isn’t one size fits all and works incredibly hard to meet the needs of all of her patients.

In addition to her medical career, Dr. Richmond is a certified yoga instructor and has been practicing yoga and wellness for over fifteen years. She offers a variety of online yoga and wellness classes for everyone from beginners to experienced yogis. Her yoga and wellness practice has given Dr. Richmond a unique outlook on the medical care she provides, as well as allowing her to offer additional resources to her patients. She is passionate about fusing her extensive knowledge of the two subjects to be informed in her practice and is encouraged and empowered daily to discover new ways to express love through medicine and yoga.

Mitsuo Tomita, MD

UCSD School of Medicine

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Tomita attended UCLA before attending medical school at UCSF.  After completing his internship and residency in Fresno in family medicine, he joined Kaiser Permanente in San Diego in 1975.  He retired from full-time family practice at Kaiser in 2008 and then did some part-time work in community health centers in the San Joaquin Valley as well as in Washington state.  He splits his time between San Diego and Seattle. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor on the voluntary faculty of the UCSD School of Medicine.

Yelena Zatulovsky, LCAT, LPMT, MA, MT-BC, CCLS, HPMT, Health Equity & Inclusion Officer

Seasons Healthcare Management, Inc.

Yelena is the Vice President of Patient Experience at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care with over 15 years of bedside experience working with patients and families at the end-of-life.  In addition to hospice and palliative care, Yelena is Licensed as a Mental Health Practitioner, board-certified as a Child Life Specialist, and holds an advanced designation as a Hospice & Palliative Care Music Therapist.  Along with Yelena’s clinical work, Yelena currently serves on NHPCO’s Pediatric Advisory Council and NHPCO’s Ethics Advisory Council, served on the Children’s Advisory Board of HPCANYS, contributed a training module to the HIPPC (HPCANYS Initiative for Pediatric Palliative Care) curriculum, has multiple published articles and chapters, and has presented at multiple conferences nationwide.  In 2011, Yelena’s music therapy work, along with that of several colleagues, was featured in the New York Times and in 2014 Yelena was honored as one of Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36.