Newsplex - Martha Jefferson HealthWise - Headlines

Healthwise: Advance Directive Health Care

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

April 14, 2010

When you're hooked to a machine and life is fading away, it can be too late to make decisions for yourself. That leaves it up to the people closest to you to determine your fate. Suzanne Smith, a Chaplin at Martha Jefferson Hospital, often supports families through these kinds of crises.

"Through the years, I have been in many situations with families where there was conflict. In reality, more families have disagreements about religion, values, beliefs, and sometimes power struggles," said Smith.

When emotion clouds decision-making, the Advance Directive - a legal document protecting a patient's choice about health care - can provide a clearer course of action.

"An Advance Directive is about your care while you're still living. More importantly, who you would trust to make decisions for you if you couldn't make decisions for yourself," said Smith.

The Terri Schiavo provides a relevant case study. A family fund kept Schiavo on life support in a vegetable state while her future was decided by courts. Years later, she was taken off life support.

"A few years ago, the Terri Schiavo case started a lot of conversations. People saying to their partners 'don't ever do that to me.' I can understand that, but that's also a very vague comment. Don't do which part? Don't what? Don't do that period of time? Don't do that type of treatment? So the conversations are crucial," said Smith.

Smith and other staffers will be available at Martha Jefferson Friday, April 16 to talk with anyone who is interested in starting the conversation toward an Advance Directive. They'll be able to answer questions about the directive and help interested parties fill one out.

"If you fill one out, it's not necessarily set in stone. The patient can later on change their directive if they gain new insight into their treatments," said Nurse Matthew Smith.

The Advance Directive form can provide a voice for a patient who can no longer speak for himself or herself.

"The question is not 'if that happens to me....' The question is 'when that happens to me, who is the person I trust to get the information?' To have the conversation and make a decision that would meet my goals," said Suzanne.

As uncomfortable as it is to think about end-of-life decisions, having an Advance Directive form can help you plan how you want to live your life.

People interested in the Advance Directive help are encouraged to stop by the Martha Jefferson Hospital lobby between 7am and 7pm for free consultations.


The comments sections of Newsplex.com are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from our viewers, but we only ask that you use your best judgment. E-mail is required, but will not be displayed with comment.

  • Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. We will not post comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.
  • We will not post comments that use hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our website.
  • Comments should not attack other readers or people featured in our stories personally. Any accusations should be backed up with facts.
  • Any comment we post will be posted in its entirety. We do not edit any comment that we post.
     
  • Comments should contribute to the discussion. We will not post comments that don't advance the discussion. Flaming and/or trolling will not be tolerated.
     
  • Comments should not attack other posters. Let's keep the focus on the content of the story.

    As a host Newsplex.com welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However this is a site that we host. We have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason The Newsplex reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.

    If you have any ideas to improve the conversation or this section let us know. Send an e-mail to webmaster@newsplex.com.

 

powered by Disqus
The Charlottesville Newsplex 999 2nd Street S.E. Charlottesville, VA 22902 434.242.1919 – Main 434.220.7522 - Newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 90864924