Friday, August 21, 2009 Austin Business Journal: Health Care Heroes 2009 - Educator Talking life and death: Zuniga’s seminars on dying based in science and spirit Austin Business Journal - by Lauren Churchin Contributing Writer As outreach coordinator for Hospice Austin, David Zuniga was tasked with designing a curriculum about end-of-life. Even as research shows people are living longer as new medical treatments are intro-duced, cultural attitudes toward illness and dying remain barriers to decisions regarding end-of-life care that could profoundly impact patient treatment and mental welln-ess. The Rev. David Zuniga is making strides in breaking down such barriers through an e-ducational program offered at Hospice Austin called On Our Own Terms: Open Conv-ersations about the End of Life. On Our Own Terms enables Central Texans to understand and openly discuss their h-ealth care options through a series of free, culturally aware seminars grounded in thelatest medical and psychological research. Topics discussed during the program’s seminars include the differences between cur-ative, palliative and hospice care; the potential burdens and benefits of life-sustainin-g treatments; and helping children cope with advanced illness. The program’s “train the trainer” model maximizes outreach by teaching participants to share their knowledge and promoting open communication among communities. As outreach coordinator for Hospice Austin, Zuniga used his extensive education in clinical psychology and experience as an interfaith health care chaplain to design the On Our Own Terms program, which is spiritually and scientifically based. “Rev. Zuniga is actively transforming the way people approach and experience the las-t phase of their lives, and is instilling participants with a newfound sense of equani-mity,” said Marjorie Mulanax, executive director of Hospice Austin. Zuniga is also a writer and sought-after expert on Latino health care needs and end-of-life care. And he was the medical ethicist in KL-RU-TV, Austin PBS’s Critical Condition: Central Texas community forum.