Archbold Memorial Hospital Supports Advanced Healthcare Decision-Making

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Archbold Memorial Hospital Supports Advanced Healthcare Decision-Making

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More than one in four elderly Americans are not able to make decisions about their care at the end of life, putting the weight of the decision on a family member or one responsible for the patient’s care.

There’s no question about it; making advanced healthcare decisions is difficult.

Discussing your wishes for end-of-life care or emergency care with your family and healthcare professionals can also be difficult.

It’s important to be prepared and to prepare your loved ones before a time of illness. This is important for anyone – at any age – because illnesses and emergencies happen to everyone, not necessarily just the elderly.

The Archbold system of hospitals including Archbold Memorial Hospital, Brooks County Hospital, Grady General Hospital and Mitchell County Hospital join with an estimated 700 healthcare providers and other organizations from across the U.S. on National Healthcare Decisions Day, observed April 16 each year, to emphasize the importance of putting your healthcare decisions in writing in advance of an illness.

Georgia has been promoting advanced healthcare planning since the implementation of the CRITICAL ConditionsSM program in 1998. The program was designed to help the public understand and plan for healthcare, and it provides education through public awareness materials, a Planning Guide, workshops and counseling.

Archbold provides the Planning Guide as a free resource for the public. The booklet directs you through steps to decide what treatment methods should or should not be taken to prolong life. It also encourages discussion with one’s Health Care Agent, a person you choose in advance to make health care decisions for you in the event that you become unable to do so. The Health Care Agent can be a family member or non-relative assigned responsibility to make healthcare decisions when one cannot or does not want to speak for themselves.

“The Planning Guide is a way to get your wishes on record so that you won’t have to worry about it in an emergency or when you can’t speak for yourself,” said Mary Boyd, patient representative and coordinator of the Critical Condition Program at Archbold Memorial Hospital. “The primary emphasis is to get the names, addresses and phone numbers of the people you want to speak for you in writing so that we know who to contact if you can’t speak for yourself. Without this on file, the responsibility falls to people who you may not want to make decisions regarding your health. You should name a primary Health Care Agent and a Back-Up Health Care Agent so that we have someone to contact.”

When completed, the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care in the Planning Guide is a legal document in Georgia and formally states the treatments one does or does not want to receive.

After the document is completed and witnessed, bring a copy to any Archbold system hospital. The document then becomes part of your medical record and allows healthcare providers to contact your Health Care Agents in the event of an emergency if the patient cannot or does not want to make a decision about their treatment.

For more information, contact Mary Boyd, patient representative and coordinator of the critical condition planning program at Archbold at (229)228-2782.