(RHINELANDER, WI) – Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital, along with other national, state and community organizations, is leading a massive effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making—an effort that has culminated in the formal designation of Wednesday, April 16, as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). As a participating organization, Ministry Saint Mary’s is providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers, and execute written advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living will) in accordance with Wisconsin state laws.
As you are well aware, there are more options in healthcare 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 healthcare agent. An appropriate healthcare 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 an advance directives document will record your choices.
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.
“As a result of National Healthcare Decisions Day, many more people in our community can be expected to have thoughtful conversations about their healthcare decisions and complete reliable advance directives to make their wishes known,” said Susan Kirby, Community Link Coordinator, Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital. “Fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient, and healthcare providers and facilities will be better equipped to address advance healthcare planning issues before a crisis and be better able to honor patient wishes when the time comes to do so.”
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 healthcare agent and your healthcare 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:
Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital, Susan Kirby, 715.361.2040
Howard Young Medical Center, Patti Zaremba, 715.356.8292
Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital, Lisa Becker, 715.479.0286
For more information about National Healthcare Decision Day, please visit www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org.