Does your family know what your wishes are in an end-of-life situation? Does your doctor and hospital?
Deborah Labesky, R.N., Warren General Hospital Care Transitions and Community coordinator, said WGH, along with other national, state and community organizations, is leading a massive effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision making.
WGH is doing this by raising awareness about the importance of advance care planning.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
Advanced healthcare directives
From left, Holli Summerville, director of Patient and Public Relations at Warren General Hospital, Debbie Sumner, president of Close to the Heart Transplant Support Group and Deborah Labesky, R.N. WGH Care Transitions and Community coordinator look over materials about living wills, medical power of attorneys and organ transplants. On Wednesday, April 16 the hospital had two displays in the outpatient lobby to publicize the need to plan ahead for healthcare crisis situations.
On Wednesday, April 16, in keeping with National Health Care Decision Day and National Donate Life Month, the hospital had representatives and displays about living wills and organ donation in the outpatient lobby to educate, inform and provide materials.
Holli Summerville, director of Patient and Public Relations at WGH, said, "We're hoping to spark conversations with family and friends about what they want."
Through advance healthcare directives, commonly known as living wills and power of attorneys, people can inform family, their healthcare providers and their hospital about end-of-life decisions, such as organ donation and specific treatment actions that they would or would not to be taken.
Not only does a living will help insure that a patient's wishes are honored, it means family members don't need to focus on difficult decisions in a healthcare crisis.
Debbie Sumner, president of the Close to the Heart Transplant Support Group said, "It's actually better to communicate your wishes in advance, because during a crisis, it's more difficult."
Labesky said, "It's about inspiring and empowering people to make their own decisions regarding their healthcare."
To learn more or download a living will, go to www.wgh.org/directives.
The website explains that if you don't have an advanced health care directive, "as long as you are able, you and your doctor together will decide about your care. If you are unable to communicate your wishes or to make decisions, your doctor will discuss this with your family. If you have no family, a court order may be required to decide your care."