Palliative Care: What It Is and How It Embodies Church Teaching


Since 2011, The National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) and the Avila Institute of Gerontology have been teaming up to offer webinars to the religious communities. The webinar topics are chosen by NRRO and AIG and reflect the needs and expressed interests of the religious communities. For more information about NRRO and the webinar series, please contact us.

Time, Topic, Speaker

Recorded Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 60 minutes

Palliative Care: What It Is and How It Embodies Church Teaching

Topic #

Webinar Description

Palliative care is a holistic and person-centered approach to compassionate care. In this webinar, we will discuss palliative care, what it is and what it isn’t, how it is initiated, and how it is different from end-of-life preparation. We will explore healthcare decision-making and the importance of understanding your wishes.

M.C. Sullivan, JD, MTS, RN Chief Healthcare Ethicist, Initiative on Palliative Care of the Archdiocese of Boston

MC Sullivan, a nurse-bioethicist-attorney, is Chief Healthcare Ethicist and Director of the Initiative for Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. In that capacity, she created and implements a program of education, ethics, and advocacy to improve the care of the seriously ill and dying. She was previously Director of Ethics at Covenant Health Systems. At Covenant, Ms. Sullivan provided professional education in ethics to the systems’ leadership and boards, its professional and non-professional staffs. She also reviewed and, as needed, creates and revise policies for the organization.In addition, she consulted with the health care providers throughout the systems on urgent patient care and organizational issues. She was formerly in private practice, providing strategic counsel in ethics and public policy, ethics, and corporate policy, and ethics and law, emphasizing strategic communications in the creation of “the message” as well as its dissemination and execution.

She has worked extensively with commercial organizations as well as not-for-profit organizations, advising them in organizational growth and development, media relations, and corporate/organizational social responsibility. Her recent clients have included pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical marketing companies, various health-related organizations, as well as charitable foundations, health care education service companies, and marketing groups. She was also previously the Executive Vice President of the Center for Practical Bioethics, where she established and maintained strategic relationships and alliances between the Center and commercial organizations in health care and life sciences, as well as policy groups, NGOs, and legislative bodies. Additionally, she maintained media relations for the Center. She has extensive experience in not-for-profit executive management. Leader of the team that developed and implemented the Center’s Initiative to Promote Integrity in Biomedical Research, she had previously directed PATHWAYS: a multi-year, multi-faceted project that promoted palliative care to improve the care of seriously ill and dying patients, and has worked with community consortia for managed care, hospital, and long-term care ethics committees. Ms. Sullivan was also a co-founder and Managing Director of LifeSciences Advisory Group LLC, providing strategic and communications consultancy services to biotechnology and healthcare organizations, ranging from small, start-up companies through large, multinational corporations.

In addition to providing these services to biotechnology and health care companies, LSAG has also provided advisory services to ancillary organizations for the sector, such as venture capital and private equity companies, public relations, and advertising companies, and media outlets. Prior to forming LSAG, Ms. Sullivan was Vice Present with Fleishman-Hillard, an international communications firm, where she provided strategic counsel for clients in the health care and biotechnology industries in the areas of corporate communications, media relations, litigation support, and crises management. Ms. Sullivan was the Executive Vice President for the Corporate Communications and Bioethics at Gemini Genomics, plc, a UK-based clinical genomics company, which listed on NASDAQ and had its corporate headquarters in the Boston area. She oversaw the regulatory compliance in human research protections for the clinical research that the company conducted around the world.

A native of Boston, MA, Ms. Sullivan earned a degree in philosophy from Emmanuel College and a diploma in Nursing from the Newton-Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing.She has a Master’s degree in Theological Studies in Ethics from Harvard University and received her Juris Doctor from the Massachusetts School of Law. She is admitted to the bar in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.Ms. Sullivan is a nationally recognized speaker at professional meetings and has made frequent media appearances. She has published extensively, and she serves on the advisory boards of several national professional organizations and projects. Ms. Sullivan serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the American Society for Law, Medicine, and Ethics. She was President of the Society in 2001, 2007, and 2008.She is a charter member of the Thomasma International Bioethics Consortium.She was a Kornfeld Fellow for 2000-1, and she served on the Scientific Commission of the Centro Internazionale de Cultura e Arte in Parma, Italy. She is on the Advisory Board of Alexandra’s House, a perinatal hospice and infant refuge. She is immediate past Chair of the Supportive Care Coalition Board of Directors, and she currently is Chair of the Board of Directors of Notre Dame Academy, Hingham, MA.

Credit Information

No continuing education is available for this webinar or the recording.


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