Documentary About End-of-Life Care Premieres on Tucson’s PBS Channel

| By Jodi Horton

Though it may not be the cheeriest of topics or the most popular of topics, Arizona Public Media (AZPM) tackled the issue of advance directives and dying in their latest original documentary, Passing On. Casa de la Luz Hospice was proud to be a part of the hour-long documentary, which includes excerpts from interviews with two Casa patients and Frank Williams, director of social services. Passing On premieres on February 22 at 9 p.m. on your local PBS station, but some members of the community were able to screen the movie early at area screening events.

At an early screening and panel discussion of the movie, Senior Producer, Special Projects for AZPM Tom Kleespie said he’d “never seen such passion and caring” than when he was working on this documentary. In addition to Casa, the film crew interviewed patients from Tucson Medical Center, Dr. Sue Taylor with TMC’s palliative care program, and individuals of La Crosse, Wis., a town known for its high rate of success with an advance directive program.

The movie opens with a family in the Intensive Care Unit, with a grandson trying to make a decision about his grandmother’s care. This is where the movie’s discussion begins—quality of life versus quantity of life, why advance directives help families make medical decisions, and the importance of knowing a family’s members end-of-life wishes.

The first advance screening was hosted for residents of Academy Village, an eastside senior community, and the audience’s questions focused on advance directive issues, palliative care, healthcare finances, and end-of-life care planning with physicians. A couple hundred people turned out for the second advance screening at the Tucson J. The discussion centered on palliative care, hospice care, and the importance of filling out advance directive forms.

Arizona Public Media is in the process of pitching the documentary to PBS so it will air nationally. In the meantime, Tucson residents can watch the television premiere of Passing On on Monday, February 22 at 9 p.m. on KUAT/PBS. For more information about the documentary and end-of-life care planning resources, visit

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