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Session on difficult decisions upcoming

3/31/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Hays Medical Center is hosting "Make Your Wishes Known" on Wednesday to highlight education on advance directives.

Advance directives came about as a result of court cases involving end-of-life issues. The term refers to living wills and power of attorney for health care.

"We're hoping to encourage people to start the conversations with their families about what their wishes would be if they had a serious illness," said Sue Noll, RN supervisor of hospice and palliative care at HaysMed. "Those who come to the program can visit with someone about (living wills and power of attorney for health care), and learn what is involved."

The program was created as a result of many people coming into the hospital who did not have any of their end-of-life documentation in place.

"This becomes very important when they can't speak for themselves," Noll said. "In times the patient is too ill to speak for his or herself, it's important to figure who has the right to speak for him or her, and what the patient's wishes may have been."

According to a study published in the January edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, approximately 70 percent of respondents did not have an advance directive. Lack of awareness was cited as the most common reason.

Noll said that could lead to difficult situations if the patient does not already have the documents in place.

"If the person has a serious accident and doesn't have anyone appointed to speak for him or her," she said, "there can be a lot of discord among family members and those trying to figure out what this person would want."

The program will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Hays Recreation Center, 1105 Canterbury.

A short video will be shown at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. There will be an opportunity to complete advance directive forms and have the forms notarized.

Those attending can come and go throughout the two-hour time span. Refreshments will be served.

"The most important thing is people will begin to talk about it before they are seriously ill or in a car accident or something like that," Noll said. "This allows the person to figure out who he or she would trust to speak for him or her."

For more information, call (785) 623-6200 or visit haysmed.com/advancedirectives.