ON OUR OWN TERMS
April 18, 2000
BILL MOYERS: I'm Bill Moyers. Welcome to our program. Today we take up a pressing need in our society: to improve the care of the dying.
With the best healing instincts, American medicine devotes its talents to curing illness - to preserving life. But there is a time when cure is no longer possible, and people need comfort and companionship of people who care.
All of us - doctors, patients, families - need help in learning how to provide that care. Fortunately, there is a movement in America to transform the way we care for the dying. It concentrates on controlling pain, and paying attention to people's emotional and spiritual needs. Today you will hear from some of the leaders of this movement, and you will have a chance to join in the dialogue.
Next September, PBS will broadcast our documentary series, ON OUR OWN TERMS, presenting many positive approaches people are taking to help patients who are facing death. This is not just a television series. A major outreach campaign, all around the country, has already begun. We urge you to become involved in this compassionate journey. I welcome our host for today's session, Mary Alice Williams.
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS: Thank you, Bill. And on behalf of Thirteen/ WNET New York, I'd like to welcome all of the PBS stations and organizations that are joining us. We all have a wonderful opportunity here today to help transform attitudes and practices around the end of life; to make this country a better place for living with dying. Today we'll talk about how you can organize coalitions that'll help bring better care to dying people and to their families. We'll discuss how to engage volunteers in a variety of programs; and later we'll talk about how you can support the efforts of the health care professionals who are working to become more attentive to the total needs of their dying patients. Right now, though, we're going to be talking with Judith Moyers, who is president of Public Affairs Television and executive producer of the documentary series ON OUR OWN TERMS: MOYERS ON DYING.
JUDITH MOYERS: Good morning.
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS: Very nice to have you with us, Judith. Why don't you tell me what the series is about?
JUDITH MOYERS: The series is about real life. It's about real issues. It's about real people who are facing the challenges of terminal illness, and -- and the -- this fabulous ability that people have to cope with the most daunting of situations. It's -- it's about reconnecting life and death. It's still --
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS: At this part of life. And --
JUDITH MOYERS: It's part of life. Death is part of life, just as birth is. And it's -- it's about people who care a great deal for each other. Often we don't know what to do to help each other in this period. But we've -- we've explored this. Bill and I picked up on -- on this movement, as he spoke about earlier, and we wanted to report on this.
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS: Why did you and Bill decide to embark on such an extensive outreach campaign surrounding the series, and what does it involve?
JUDITH MOYERS: Well, it ... television's not enough; that's something that we've learned over our many years of making it. It's here today, it's gone tomorrow. It's -- you may catch it, you may not. Of course, you have the opportunity on public broadcasting of maybe finding it the second time. But we want to -- always to give television legs; to broaden its scope, to lengthen its life so that it lives on. And we know, from previous experience with other series, that this can be done with this kind of outreach and education campaign.
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS: So the way this program today fits into the whole picture is, it is the call to action.
JUDITH MOYERS: It's the call to action. We've been at work strategizing and preparing tools for this. We're ready. This is not the -- the first day of the campaign, but this is sort of the launch.
MARY ALICE WILLIAMS: What are the tools that you're making available for this?
JUDITH MOYERS: We have a -- I think an impressive array of tools. We have a 128-page leadership guide. I know someone will talk about that more later. It contains ... resources, lists, strategies; everything you need to get started. We have a Web site that's already up and going. Uh, this Web site is really an amazing resource, because it contains not only all these lists and all this information, but it also contains downloadable -- I think downloadable is a word -- downloadable material, so that you can download, for example, the -- the guide; you can download templates for advertising purposes or for your own printing purposes locally. We also have an electronic newsletter, which has an ongoing daily update of what's happening. We have a -- a brochure, which is a -- sort of a quickie -- it's a kind of thing you can reach into your pocket or bag and -- and hand to someone; a trifold brochure. We have a discussion guide, which is for the purpose of keeping -- of stimulating and keeping these dialogues that we believe will be going on all over this country.