Campaign urges isle residents to address end-of-life issues
Hawaii residents are urged to make advance end-of-life care decisions to avoid the kind of controversy that surrounded Terri Schiavo's death a year ago Friday in Florida.
Schiavo suffered brain damage after a heart attack in 1990. She had no advance directive and her parents and her husband battled in court over removal of her feeding tube. Congress and the White House became involved in the controversy.
Kokua Mau, the Hawaii end-of-life care coalition, will launch a "statewide consumer engagement campaign" tomorrow to help people with advance care planning, said Rachael S. Wong, project coordinator.
For the past two years, the organization has concentrated on advance care planning, hospice and palliative care and is now going into the community, she said.
Kokua Mau has received $75,000 from the HMSA Foundation for the project, she said.
Trained health care professionals will educate residents about the importance of advance care planning and provide Five Wishes advance directives with lifetime electronic storage by Health Directive Partners in Waipio, Wong said.
Any time a person with a Five Wishes advance directive shows up in a hospital or emergency room across the country, medical personnel will have access to the directive, she said.
Residents also can download directives (without electronic lifetime storage) from kokuamau.org.
Wong said a new assessment will be done to determine how many Hawaii residents have advance directives, formerly called living wills.
Only 32 percent of isle residents over age 18 had them in 2001, she said.
A study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found only 29 percent of Americans had a living will, although more than 70 percent had thought about end-of-life treatments.
Wong said Kokua Mau will hire someone to solicit calls and organize a speakers bureau for advance planning talks during the campaign.
Jim Pietsch, University of Hawaii Elder Law Program director and professor of geriatric medicine, has emphasized that advance planning is important even for young people because of accidents.
"Today, medical technology offers a number of treatments that can prolong life but you may or may not want all available treatments," he said in a news release.
Pietsch said "individual instructions," replacing what was known as the "living will," can be made orally and included in an advance directive for a wide range of health care decisions.
A "durable power of attorney for health care" also can be included naming someone to carry out instructions or make health care decisions for a person who can't speak. Kokua Mau provides free advance care planning workshops on all islands.
For more information or to request a speaker, call Kokua Mau at 585-9977 or 1-800-474-2113* from the neighbor islands or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
» The toll-free neighbor island number for Kokua Mau, the end-of-life care coalition, is 800-474-2113. An incorrect telephone number was given in a Page A17 article Sunday.