The 16th annual Caring Coalition Conference, The Best Care Possible, to be held on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in Southfield, Michigan, will bring together nurses, social workers, physicians, clergy, case managers and other health care professionals from Southeast Michigan and bordering states. The intent of this conference is to increase understanding of the complex issues related to serious and terminal illness. Conference participants will receive continuing education credits, along with the opportunity to network with others in their field.

Co-chaired by Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network CEO Rabbi Joseph H. Krakoff, Rabbi Bunny (E.B.) Freedman, founder of JHCN, and Cheryl Weiss, JHCN director of education, this symposium will feature national experts Dr. Timothy Ihrig, MD, Mary-Frances O’Connor, Ph.D., and inspirational speaker Colin Campbell. They will be joined by local experts David Nathanson, M.D., Natalie Rosenfield, B.S.W. and Leslie Katz, L.M.S.W.


The Best Care Possible conference is presented by the Caring Coalition, a diverse group of Southeast Michigan hospices, hospitals and community organizations whose purpose is to educate health care professionals and the general public about issues related to hospice and palliative care. Our attendees serve the physical and emotional needs of thousands of patients and their families throughout Southeast Michigan and bordering states. More than 75 members of the Caring Coalition have worked together since 2008 to present accredited conferences featuring nationally known and local experts, and have each attracted more than 900 health care professionals.

• 2023 conference presenters feature national experts David Fajgenbaum, MBA, MD; Phyllis Kosminsky, MSW, PhD; inspirational speaker Robert Paylor; Jill Gafner Livingston, BS, CDP; Jennifer Kileny, CCC-SLP; Becca Wallace, CCC-SLP; Jennifer Smith, MM, MT-BC; and Christina Torres, MTBC
• 2022 conference presenters featured national experts Jessica Zitter, M.D., Kristin Meekhof, M.S.W., Howard Schubiner, M.D., Gail Patricolo, and Dale Larson, Ph.D.
• 2021 conference presenters featured national experts David B. Feldman, PhD; Jayson Greene; Michael Paletta, MD; and Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, all of whom were scheduled to appear at the 2020 event, which was postoponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• 2019 conference presenters included Dale Larson, PhD, Daniela Lamas, MD, Matthew Loscalzo, LCSW, Marcus Engel, MS, Michelle Davila, ND, Catherine Runjie Yu, LPTA, Rachael Lupton, MA-MT-BC and Kaitlin Ridgway, MM-MT-BC.
• The 2018 conference featured Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD, Steven Pantilat, MD, William Breitbart, MD, FAPM, and Sherri Mandell, MA, with presentations from Joyce Simard, MSW, Gail Elliott Patricolo, MA, and Lyndsy E. Adamson, MT-BC.
• The 2017 conference featured national experts Dr. Ira Byock, Dr. Sheldon Solomon and Dr. Jessica Zitter, who brought us her award-winning documentary, “Extremis”.
• Our 2016 conference featured neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, PhD, geriatrician Joanne Lynn, MD, oncologist Richard Payne, MD, Marcus Engel, and Michael Paletta, MD.
• The 2015 conference, Caring for the Whole Person featured Rwandan survivor Immaculeee Ilibagiza, grief specialist David Kessler, psychologist Dr. Dale Larson, and cancer researcher Dr. Sofia Merajver.
• In 2014 Pain, Loss and Suffering presented journalist and author Joshua Prager, physicians Stacie Pinderhughes and Michael Levy, and local grief survivor Gary Weinstein.
• The 2013 conference, Values, Ethics and Culture at End of Life, with keynote speaker bioethicist Arthur Caplan, focused on the impact of values and ethics on end of life experiences.
• The 2012 conference, On My Terms: Patient Directed Care focused on patient centered care, and featured nationally recognized hospice physician and author Ira Byock, M.D.
• Our 2011 conference, The Science of Comfort Care, explored evidence-based practices and philosophies offering comfort to those affected by chronic and life-limiting illness.
• The 2010 conference, Handle with Care: Powerful Compassionate Care Giving drew attendees to a conversation about best practices in caregiving.
• In 2009, our conference, The War on Pain, addressed the under treatment of pain in patients with chronic and terminal illness.
• In 2008, The Same But Different symposium explored the similarities and differences in rituals and customs practiced by different faiths at the end of life.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Location: Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 27375 Bell Road, Southfield, Michigan and  live-streamed. (Registered virtual attendees will receive a link to the livestream via e-mail.)


8:25 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. –
Welcome and announcements
Rabbi E.B. Freedman

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Mary Frances O’Connor, Ph.D.
“The Grieving Brain”

9:30a.m.  – 10:30 a.m.
Dr. Timothy Ihrig
“The Final Chapter”

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Break

10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Dr. David Nathanson/Rabbi J. Krakoff
“Surviving Arrogance”

 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. –  Lunch

1:00 p.m.- 2:00 p.m.
Dementia-related Film and Discussion
Natalie Rosenfield, B.S.W.
Leslie Katz, L.M.S.W 
local family caregivers

2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Judge Michael L. Stacey Trust
Hospice Hero Awards

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Break

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Colin Campbell
“Finding the Words”

3:30 p.m. – Evaluations

• To identify strategies for helping grievers build a community of support
• To recognize how the brain affects cognition and emotion in the process of adaption to bereavement
• To understand the benefits of spiritual practices as a component in the treatment of illness
• To identify the complex stressors affecting the family caregivers of individuals living with dementia
• To identify ways to shift the narrative of dying to living, loving, learning and growing through every breath.