Which track will you choose?

Last updated: October 10. 2013 3:27PM - 597 Views
Ann Gauthreaux Director of Public Relations Hospice & Palliative CareCenter Rowan Hospice & Palliative Care

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Stepping into a modern day emergency center is like stepping onto a moving train. A person leaves his or her primary doctor behind at the station, make many stops along the way, go through the emergency department, perhaps even to the ICU or some other unknown department, then on to rehab or a variety of other specialists. That’s a long trip with many overwhelming stops before they’re hopefully, eventually, back home.

Along the way, none of those physicians or healthcare providers knows the patient well. The person may or may not be able to speak for themselves. People never know when some unexpected crisis will rob them of that ability. If the conductors change shifts, a person’s “ticket,” otherwise known as their plan of care, may not get passed on to the right person with the right message.

Can one imagine a worse time to face the challenges or confusion outlined in this realistic scenario? Does it sound like the pathway someone would choose during a crisis? People are often put in the tough position of making hard healthcare choices and on-the-spot decisions for loved ones. Without having discussed or planned for these circumstances, people are often left to guess — leaving them feeling helpless, vulnerable, guilty, and unsure of what to do.

There is a better way.

Picture a very different train ride. A person knows his or her destination before even arriving at the station. Furthermore, the conductor has a “ticket” and knows where the person is headed and what stops he or she will need to make along the way.

Like preparing for a vacation or special event, proper planning can make all the difference. After all, people plan for the birth of a child and so should they plan for their final chapters. People should ask: “Who knows my healthcare wishes? Who will be with me when it is time to make healthcare decisions? Have I chosen someone to be my companion on the journey — a person I trust to understand what I want and stand up for me if my wishes are being misunderstood, ignored or become part of a dispute?”

People can protect themselves as they travel through today’s healthcare maze by:

• Thinking about the kind of care they want

• Talking to the right people about their choices

• Understanding the choices they’re making

• Documenting their wishes

• Sharing this important conversation with family and doctor

Patients, and those people care for, deserve to have the best possible care. Learn how to simplify the journey and make sure that healthcare wishes are honored.

A free one-day forum will be held in Yadkinville by Rowan Hospice & Palliative Care to learn from doctors, clergy, and professionals.

Participants will learn about the importance of advance care planning. They will learn what questions to ask, when to ask them, and what to do if a doctor or minister is uncomfortable talking to someone about these topics. They may be uncomfortable discussing or delivering bad news. Doctors may even be uncomfortable suggesting when it’s time to move beyond care aimed at cure to care aimed at comfort and quality of life — when cure is no longer an option.

If a physician ever says, “I’m sorry, there is nothing more we can do,” they are wrong. There is much that can be done. It may not be aimed at curing the incurable, yet that shouldn’t keep you from getting the best possible supportive care by an entire team of professionals ready to serve a patient and the family.

Conference participants will be introduced to the tools one will need for this process. Tools include:

• “Isn’t It Time We Talk?” discussion guide

• Advance Medical Directives:

• Living Will (Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death)

• Health Care Power of Attorney — a paper that appoints someone to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself

• MOST Form (Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment) — a doctor’s set of orders that translates healthcare wishes into a doctor’s prescription

While this conference is free, donations are accepted to help offset the cost of this and other community education initiatives. Advanced registration is required for seating and food purposes. Call 336-768-6157 ext. 1622 for additional information and to register.

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