Episode 107: A conversation with Hank Dunn on hard choices at the end of life.
In Today’s episode, Saul talks to Hank Dunn about his book, “Hard Choices for loving people.” Since 1983, Hank Dunn has been ministering to patients at the end of their lives and their families. During that time, he has served in a nursing home, hospice programs and a hospital. He has become an expert on the topic of helping patients and families with end-of-life decisions.
A Florida native, Hank is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in history and was on football scholarship. He received his Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
After serving for five years right after seminary in a very traditional church in Macon, Georgia he moved to the Washington, DC area to be a part of the very nontraditional Church of the Saviour. For a year following the move to DC, Hank worked as a carpenter and then for four years directed an inner-city ministry for hard-to-employ people. In 1983 Chaplain Dunn began his healthcare work as a nursing home chaplain. He has served as a hospice chaplain and volunteered nights and weekends as an on-call chaplain at a community hospital.
He is a past president of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and has served on several ethics committees. Hank is a frequent speaker nationally on the topic of making end-of-life decisions and spirituality and healthcare.
To help him explain end-of-life decisions to patients and families, he wrote a booklet to hand to them so they could reflect on the issues discussed. As an afterthought, he sent the book out to other institutions to see if they would be interested in purchasing it for their clients. First published in 1990, Hard Choices for Loving People: CPR, Feeding Tubes, Palliative Care, Comfort Measures, and the Patient with a Serious Illness is now in its Sixth Edition, with over 3.9 million copies sold, and it is being used in more than 5,000 hospitals, nursing homes, faith communities and hospice programs nationwide. His second book, Light in the Shadows: Meditations While Living with a Life-Threatening Illness, is a collection of reflections on the emotional and spiritual concerns at the end of life. Besides speaking on topics related to his books, Chaplain Dunn has also been a leader of silent retreats. Hank has recently moved to Oxford, Mississippi after 39 years living in the DC suburbs of Virginia. He enjoys fly fishing, wilderness camping, hiking, kayaking and life in general.