Monday, April 16, 2012 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, so Ministry Health Care is taking this opportunity to remind our communities about the importance of advance directives.
As you are well aware, there are more options in health care technology than ever before. However, you may not always be physically able to choose what treatments you need or want. For this reason it is important to plan in advance for future medical choices.
The planning process begins with each person knowing their health condition and how it could change. One of the most important factors in formulating your advance directives is choosing your health care agent. An appropriate health care agent may not always be the person who loves you the most, but someone who understands your beliefs and views. After formulating your plan, completing and advance directives document will record your choices.
Nancy and Bill Brissee of Rhinelander participated in the initial training for the Respecting Choices program held at Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital. “Bill and I completed our own documents,” Nancy stated. “Feeling satisfied that we’d taken care of our end-of-life issues, we continued to discuss our wishes with each other, our children and close friends.”
In March, 2011 Bill’s wishes were put to the test. He was diagnosed with severe kidney failure. Bill declined any consideration of kidney dialysis, as he had indicated when he first executed his advance care directive.
“We continued to discuss his wishes regarding health care, assuring each other that his decision would be honored by me,” Nancy added. “Bill passed away one month later at home doing things his way. Since we had talked at length about his preferences, I was able to honor his wishes.”
Advance directives should be completed by anyone over the age of 18 and should be updated when choices change. Completing your advance directives can be considered a wonderful gift to friends and family because if a medical crisis should arise, everyone can work together to honor your wishes. Also, completing your advance directives can greatly reduce family and medical conflicts during an already stressful time.
If you are ready to take the first step in completing your advance directives, you can find out about the process by attending an Advance Care Planning workshop at a Ministry Health Care hospital in your area. To find out times and locations, contact the number below that is most convenient for you.
Upon completion, this document should be shared with your health care agent and your health care provider(s). The original advance directive documentation should be retained for your records.
For help with the advance directives process, here are the contacts specific to your region:
Howard Young Medical Center, Patti Zaremba 715-356-8292
Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital, Lisa Becker 715-479-0286
Ministry Sacred Heart-Saint Mary’s, Patient & Family Services 715-361-2120