Making your own choices, and letting both your family and your medical providers know your choices, is a huge gift to others, and is a way of taking charge of your own life during these uncertain times. What better time than the present?
Here are local resources to help you clarify your wishes around medical care and treatment if you are hospitalized for COVID-19 including the realities of advanced medical interventions, advance care planning workshops, addendum options for advance directives, and communication resources for health care workers.
Realities of Advanced Medical Interventions
In frank layperson's terms Dr. Bill Lombard, a nephrologist, discusses the meaning of advanced medical interventions (such as ventilators, pressers, CPR) focusing on what these "interventions" mean to average people and their families, and on patient outcomes when these interventions are employed. This information should help you can make informed decisions about your own choices for care. This presentation also addresses advance care planning, advance directives, and the importance of palliative care and how and when a POLST (Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) should be used. A Glossary of Terms is also available for download.
After reviewing this information, if you need clarification on an aspect of a medical intervention before you tackle completing your Advance Directive, email firstname.lastname@example.org and she will contact Dr. Lombard, who has agreed to clarify wherever possible. We CANNOT provide personal medical advice.
Advance Care Planning Workshops
Completing your advance directive is an important step in expressing your wishes should you be unable to speak for yourself concerning medical care. Here are two organizations offering workshops and assistance in completing your advance directive.
Classes on Demand
Although in-person classes on Advance Care Planning have been canceled through the end of May, the PeaceHealth Advance Care Planning team offers recorded classes, is developing an on-line “live” class, and can provide email or phone consultations. Learn more on the PeaceHealth Advance Care Planning page or contact Hillary Walker at email@example.com or 360-752-5267.
NW Regional Council
NW Regional Council serves seniors and people who need long-term care in Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties. They coordinate advanced care planning presentations in the community and have staff available to do small group, family or 1:1 facilitation of ACP conversations—general interest, first steps, documentation review and/or completion. In most cases, they can also help as witnesses and notaries. For more information contact program specialist, Kate Massey, at 360-676-6749 or 360-410-5817.
Addendum Options for Advanced Directives
In light of COVID-19, you may choose to specify your wishes related to treatment for this virus. Here are four addendum options.
Addendum provided by the Hemlock Society from San Diego, CA:
COVID-19 Directive, adapted from The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life, by Katy Butler © 2019:
COVID-19 Addendum from Frank Ostaseski, an adaption of a letter originally created by Katy Butler
Once completed, send these updates to medical decision makers and primary care office.
Communications Resources for Health Care Workers
from Honoring Choices PNW
Honoring Choices PNW is offering a series of free webinar recordings on communication skills and tools for physicians, advanced practitioners, and other members of the health care team responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Topics include,
VitalTalk presents COVID-Ready Communication Skills,
Overview of Ariadne Labs Serious Illness Care Program’s COVID-19 Toolkit,
Serious Illness and POLST in the Setting of COVID-19,
Making Advance Care Planning Easier for Diverse Populations During the COVID-19 Crisis, and
Planning Tools to Meet the Unique Challenges of COVID-19.