Dr. Bernard Hammes is the director of Medical Humanities and Respecting Choices® for Gundersen Health System headquartered in La Crosse, Wis. In this position, he provides educational programs for house staff, medical students, nursing students and physician assistant students. He also provides in-services and workshops for the medical staff, nursing staff, social workers and the pastoral care department. Dr. Hammes chairs both the Institutional Review Board and Ethics Committee at Gundersen. He serves the role of ethics consultant on the Ethics Committee.
Dr. Hammes’ work has been primarily focused on improving care for patients with serious illness. He has developed institutional policies and practices, staff education and patient/community education with a special focus on advance care planning. This work has resulted in two nationally recognized programs on advance care planning: If I Only Knew... and Respecting Choices. He served as editor for the book Having Your Own Say: Getting the Right Care When It Matters Most, which was released in 2012. He has authored or co-authored 42 articles and book chapters that are focused on clinical ethics, advance care planning and care of patients with serious illness. Dr. Hammes is a member of the executive committee of the National POLST Paradigm Task Force and serves as the current past-chair of the Task Force. He is on the board of directors for the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) and serves as the vice president of the International Society of Advance Care Planning.
Dr. Hammes was awarded the PDIA Palliative Medicine Community Leadership Award by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2012. This award recognizes an individual for contributions to the advancement of the field of palliative medicine through the education and training of future leaders.
He is professor of Clinical Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an associate adjunct professor of the Institute for Health and Society at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Dr. Hammes was educated at the University of Notre Dame, receiving his bachelor of arts in 1972 and his doctorate in philosophy in 1978. He has taught at the University of Gonzaga in Spokane,Wash., and at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Here are two video's where Dr. Hammes discusses the importance of end-of-life care: