The Convenings honored with 2017 Board of Governor’s Emmy® Award

Published in Media Releases Author: CentraCare

The National Academy of Television Arts & Science (NATAS) – Upper Midwest Chapter Board of Governors Award bestowed the prestigious Regional Emmy® Award to The Convenings for its efforts to encourage end-of-life discussions.

The Governor’s Emmy® Award honors visionary, long-standing relationships that creatively and effectively use corporate, non-profit and broadcast resources to showcase the power of broadcasting to advance a mission or message. The award was presented Sept. 7.

The Convenings is based on a series of remarkable broadcast conversations Minnesota Public Radio’s Cathy Wurzer had with University of St. Thomas Dean Bruce Kramer and their book “We Know How This Ends: Living while Dying.” Kramer died in 2015 after living with ALS.

A multi-year effort to help Minnesotans talk about late-life planning, The Convenings involved an unprecedented collaboration among Minnesota civic leaders, health care, faith, and commercial and public media professionals that broadened the taboo discussion beyond health care decisions to focus on living well at any stage of life. From 2016 to 2017, key health, community and media leaders collaborated to promote local live events throughout Minnesota.

CentraCare Health sponsored the Central Minnesota regional event April 18 at St. John’s University in Collegeville. Hosted by Cathy Wurzer, the event featured special guest poet and retired physician Dr. J. Weston Smith and folk musician, Peter Mayer. Other locations included Ely, Luverne, Faribualt, Owatonna and Coon Rapids.

“Having the conversation early about end-of-life care makes tough decisions less difficult,” said Dr. Merryn Jolkovsky, medical director of Palliative Care at CentraCare Health. “Having a health care directive in place decreases guilt for loved ones and increases the likelihood that your wishes are followed."

CentraCare Health continues to encourage conversation about end-of-life through a series of book clubs discussing the book by Bruce Kramer and Cathy Wurzer, “We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying.”

reConvening event is planned for Central Minnesota Nov. 9 in St. Cloud.

About Convenings

To expand Minnesota family conversations concerning late-life planning, Honoring Choices Minnesota and the Bruce Kramer Collaborative are launching a new, statewide program called “The Convenings: Real Families. Real Choices. Real Life.”

From late 2016 through 2017, Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities-PBS journalist Cathy Wurzer will host events in six Minnesota communities designed to inspire and support family discussions of what is a meaningful late life and end-of-life. The public events are designed to open the discussion beyond health care decisions and focus on living well at any stage of life so end-of-life decisions will feel less confusing and more authentic.

The Convenings include a unique media collaboration between KARE11, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) and other local media organized by long-time TPT Executive Bill Hanley. Hanley says: “KARE and TPT have each been very thoughtful and creative in working with us to shape a variety of approaches to this challenging but inspirational content.”

Honoring Choices-Minnesota is the highly-regarded end-of-life planning initiative of the Twin Cities Medical Society (TCMS). TCMS CEO Sue Schettle regards the project as critical to both health care professionals and individual families. “It has been proven over and over again that late life is improved for patients and their families when we thoughtfully discuss and plan for end-of-life decisions. It’s a gift you can give your family.”

The Bruce Kramer Collaborative is a creative community engagement initiative arising out of radio interviews, podcasts and book collaboration between St. Thomas University Dean Bruce Kramer and MPR host Cathy Wurzer. Dr. Kramer lived a remarkable life with ALS, dying of the disease in 2015. Wurzer says, “When he was diagnosed with the fatal illness in 2010, Bruce decided that the thing about dying is that you have to live through it. That’s exactly what he did: he lived as fully as possible, for as long as possible, experiencing amazing growth even as he died. His life can serve as a model for the rest of us.”