Healthcare Decisions Day

April 10, 2012

Valley County Health System, along with other national, state and community organizations, is working to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making-an effort that has culminated in the formal designation of one day in April of each year, as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). This year it is Monday, April 16th.

VCHS encourages area residents to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers, and execute written advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living will) in accordance with Nebraska state laws.

The NE Hospice and Palliative Care Association devotes much of its time educating Nebraskans on the importance of completing advance directives. Initiatives like the formation of community end-of-life coalitions across the state, outreach campaigns, and the placement of articles in consumer and professional publications have contributed to growth in the number of Nebraskans with an advance directive. Thirty-seven percent of Nebraskans report having an advance directive.
Talking with family members and others in your life about your end-of-life wishes, coupled with an advance directive, can significantly ease the burden on those who must make health care decisions for you. Regardless of your age, we hope you will use the tools we provide you to have these important conversations with the people in your life and formally document your wishes in an advance directive.

"Advance Directive" is a general term that describes two types of legal documents - living wills and health care powers of attorney. These documents allow a person to give instructions about future medical care, should he or she be unable to participate in health care decisions due to serious illness or incapacity.

A living will is a written statement that describes the type of care a person wishes to receive in the event he or she is suffering from a terminal illness or is in a persistent vegetative state.

A power of attorney for health care is a document through which one person (the principal) authorizes another person (the agent) to make health care decisions on his or her behalf.

For more information about advance directives, call Marilyn Winkelbauer at Valley County Health System at 308-728-4315, or visit www.NationalHealthcareDecisionsDay.org or www.NEHospice.org.