Professionals endorse MyDirectives’ Movement
MyDirectives has met with and worked alongside a broad range of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, hospital chaplains and even individuals from the medical world who have also worked in government, who share MyDirectives’ focus in advocating for advance care planning. We have collected their testimonies to highlight real-world experiences showcasing the need for advance care planning.
Christine White, a social worker in Salem, Oregon, urges her clients – and her friends and family – to engage in advance care planning, so they can be sure to tell their loved ones everything they would need to know (or want them to know), in the event they cannot communicate for themselves due to some sort of unexpected medical crisis. In her role as an administrator, she is constantly reminding her colleagues to join her in taking a more active stance with those they encounter in their work, encouraging advance care planning at every step.
Chicago nurse and advance care planning specialist Susan Dolan tells stories of people struggling by family members’ bedsides, wishing they had taken the time to ask more about the types of treatment their loved ones would have wanted. She says key moments – birthdays, New Year’s, major life events – are prime times to reevaluate priorities conveyed in advance directives.
Dr. Robert Fine, a director of clinical ethics and palliative care in Dallas, also has seen too many families faced with a situation where they have to make decisions for a loved one – and they are burdened by not knowing what their loved one would have wanted. He says that being able to document health care directives in a way that makes them accessible at any time – both for purposes of updating as circumstances change and in case doctors need to see them to make vital decisions – is incredibly valuable for the people he works with every day. Advance care planning, he says, ensures that people receive treatment more in accord with their own unique values.
Rev. Remington Johnson, who serves as manager of chaplain services at the Heart Hospital of Austin, grew frustrated earlier this year, as he watched a family endure a difficult and tragic situation that he says could have been avoided if only a digital advance care plan had been in place.
And Dr. Fred Mirarchi, medical director of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Erie, Penn., has devoted much of his career to educating fellow members of the medical community and the public that, shockingly, it takes longer for a doctor to prescribe a painkiller via an electronic medical record than it does to approve the decision to let someone die. He published a book, Understanding Your Living Will: What You Need to Know Before a Medical Emergency, to highlight stories like those he learned from a Temple University Internal Medicine doctor, who cites instances at assisted care agencies who are relying on often outdated POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) forms and treating them – gravely wrongly – as advance directives.