National Healthcare Decisions Day is observed annually on April 16. According to Saline Regional Health Center, the day is aimed at increasing the number of Americans who have completed an advance directive – also known as a living will.
The hospital in Salina is commemorating the day by providing a free workbook called Five Wishes to help guide people and their loved ones who are having discussions about the choices that should be made if a serious health condition arises.
“Many people put off discussing the topic of serious illness and death, but it’s essential to have these family conversations in advance and documenting these decisions,” said Zachary Jepson, M.D., an Emergency Department physician at Salina Regional Health Center. “These discussions should take place in the comfort of one’s home, not in a hospital emergency room when it may be too late.”
To receive a copy of Five Wishes, click on the “Contact Us” tab at www.srhc.com and please provide your name and a postal mailing address. Copies of the workbook will be mailed to interested participants’ homes. You can also call Salina Regional’s Organizational Development department at (785) 452-7600 to request a copy. The effort is underwritten by the Salina Regional Health Foundation.
This past year Salina Regional Health Center began using Aging with Dignity’s Five Wishes advance care planning program to help patients and family members who are having these
discussions. Salina Regional attorneys have adapted Five Wishes to meet legal requirements for the state of Kansas.
The simple 12-page workbook offers step-by-step guidance that walks people through the personal, family and spiritual matters, in addition to the medical and legal concerns, that should be considered when making these decisions.
It’s estimated that only about 20 to 30 percent of Americans have completed an advance directive, even though all people age 18 and older should have one.
Five Wishes is a national program that was created by Aging with Dignity, a non-profit organization founded in 1996 that seeks to safeguard and affirm the human dignity of every person who faces the challenges and opportunities of aging or serious illness.