Advanced Directives Advocates Recognized

CONCORD, NH– Kate Hanna, an attorney at Sheehan Phinney Law Firm, and Dr. Philip Lawson of Littleton Regional Healthcare were recognized recently with the Mary Ellen LaRoche Home Care Public Policy Award for their work championing revisions to New Hampshire’s Advance Directive laws.


“Advocating for the bill was a team effort involving many people, but these two individuals stand out,” says Gina Balkus, CEO at the Home Care Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance of New Hampshire. “They were volunteers committed to improving New Hampshire’s law so patients could easily make their wishes known and providers could honor those wishes without unnecessary legal barriers.”


Initially, when elder law attorneys expressed opposition to SB 74, Hanna worked with them on their concerns. She crafted solutions that addressed legal issues, clinical complexities, and patient rights. She always considered how laws would be applied in multiple settings, including home care and hospice.


Dr. Lawson often joined meetings and legislative hearings after long, sleepless shifts in the Emergency Room, revising language, speaking to legislators and stakeholders, listening to their concerns, and thoughtfully recommending reasonable compromises. His use of real end-of-life examples of how the existing laws created legal barriers for patients’ desired care was pivotal in garnering support for SB 74.


The Mary Ellen LaRoche Home Care & Hospice Public Policy Award was created to honor the memory of Mary Ellen LaRoche. She was the director of Carroll County Health and Home Care Services. Mary Ellen believed that being active in public policy was essential to assure quality health care for every resident of New Hampshire. The Home Care, Hospice, and Palliative Care Alliance represents private and non-profit home care agencies serving every community in New Hampshire.