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Seeing the Future

Hospital urges health care planning

Published: Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 3:00 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided by OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Clinic)
The hospital employees, shown in the photo above, all completed training to allow them the ability to help patients with planning. The front row, from left to right, includes Lindsey Pyszka, Education; Ahlyssa Pinter, Behavioral Health CHOICES; Susan Power, Social Services; and Sharron Gingrich, Ottawa Regional Medical Center, a Part of OSF HealthCare (ORMC). The back row, from left to right, includes Rebecca Ralston, Hospice; Brittany Duggan, Social Services; Nancy Tuftie, Social Services; Dawn Walker, Women’s Health Center; Laurel Svoboda, ORMC; and Joanne Leigh, also of ORMC. Not pictured is Father Michael Driscoll of the Pastoral Care department.

OTTAWA, Ill. — A new program at OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center encourages patients to think about their future health care needs.

Advanced Care Planning (ACP) utilizes facilitators who can help individuals begin thinking and talking about an illness with their family and physician before it becomes severe.

The purpose of ACP is to give individuals a say in the care decisions — including medical technology and medications — made at the end of life when they can no longer speak for themselves.

The discussion can help to identify what is important in life, including any moral, spiritual or religious beliefs prior to making critical health care decisions.

“One of the most important components is to complete a Health Care Power of Attorney document once you have had the discussion with your physician and loved ones,” said Nancy Tuftie, director of social services for the hospital.

“Many people believe that this document requires an attorney,” said Tuftie.  “That’s simply not true. There are 11 different ACP facilitators here at OSF Saint Elizabeth who can, at no charge, help begin the process of discussing and understanding its importance prior to filling out the document and putting it on file.”

Tuftie also stresses that while the completed Health Care Power of Attorney will be attached to a patient’s medical record, it’s also important to review it periodically if your health or wishes for future care have changed.

Individuals should keep a copy on record and inform their family of any updated decisions so there is a greater likelihood their wishes can be followed in the event the document is needed. 

Individuals should also plan to speak with their intended power of attorney so that designated person is informed and can accurately make health care decisions on their behalf.

For more information about Advanced Care Planning or to begin a discussion with one of the 11 facilitators, contact Social Services at (815) 431-5476.

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