Marlton, N.J. – Communicating your wishes about future medical care is difficult even under the best circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic is making these conversations even more challenging, yet more important than ever, especially for frail elders and older adults with underlying chronic medical conditions who are at the highest risk of developing severe complications if they become sick. Having the talk early, before you or your loved one becomes ill, can help healthcare professionals ensure that your values and priorities are central to treatment decisions.
In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) on April 16, Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey (GOCCNJ) and Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice are educating healthcare professionals and the public, including the elderly, nursing home and long-term care residents, their loved ones, and authorized healthcare proxies about the importance of discussing and documenting one’s personal goals and wishes for medical care and treatment in either an advance directive or POLST (practitioner’s order for life-sustaining treatment).
GOCCNJ and Samaritan will lead a daily (Monday-Friday), 30-minute webinar featuring Stephen Goldfine, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice, at 1:00 p.m. EST through April 24. Visit www.goalsofcare.org or www.samaritannj.org to register and access free tools and resources about COVID-19 and the advance care planning process.
“Too often we see patients who have not expressed their goals and wishes, leaving it to others to make decisions for them. A main focus of hospice and palliative care is to identify our patients’ goals of care and assure that our medical interventions honor those goals. It is our job to ensure these patients and their families live their best possible quality life as they define it,” says Dr. Goldfine. “National Healthcare Decisions Day brings light to how important it is for everyone to consider their healthcare goals and complete their advance directives before illness or injury may make it impossible for them to speak for themselves.”
NHDD is a nationwide, annual initiative sponsored by The Conversation Project that aims to educate individuals and healthcare professionals about the importance of advance care planning and discussing, deciding and documenting wishes for future medical care. The goal is to empower patients, families and clinicians so that these conversations are more commonplace.
“It is essential to share information about what is or is not wanted in the event of a medical emergency. Now is the time for individuals to take an active role in their health by making decisions about future care. Please, help medical staff offer heroic interventions to those who wish to have it, so they don’t burden those who wish to avoid it,” implores Dr. David Barile, Founder/Chief Medical Officer, GOCCNJ.
Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice is the regional leader for hospice care, palliative (comfort) medicine, at-home primary care for seniors, grief support and counseling, and education and advocacy for our community’s more vulnerable, seriously ill population. Celebrating forty years of caring, today Samaritan serves New Jersey residents who are coping with the stresses of aging, serious illness or grief in their homes, assisted-living, or nursing home communities and through two inpatient hospice centers.
GOCCNJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the only network of organizations in NJ working together to make certain that patients with serious illness get the care they need and no less, and the care they want and no more. Through education and advocacy, GOCCNJ’s mission is to ensure that healthcare providers, patients, and family caregivers have the information, resources, training, and tools they need to facilitate discussions that result in a care plan that aligns treatment with the patient’s goals of care.