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StarBulletin.com

End-of-life care planning urged


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POSTED: Thursday, April 16, 2009

A document called an advance care directive is one of the most important gifts anyone can give their loved ones, Hawaii health-care officials stress.

And no lawyers are needed, they point out, because forms are readily available on various Web sites.

Today, on National Healthcare Decision Day, health-care organizations are urging residents 18 and older to make their wishes known about medical treatments on paper and in conversations with loved ones in case of a terminal illness or accident and for end-of-life planning.

“;The biggest thing is not to leave it up to chance,”; said Linda Dullin, senior case manager and a registered nurse in Hawaii Medical Service Association's Integrated Case Management Services.

Ironically, Dullin said, both she and Melissa Bojorquez, manager of HMSA's medical management department, are dealing with family members and situations with advance care directives about medical treatment.

In her case, she said, it took her seven years to get her mother to fill out an advance care directive but once she put her wishes in writing, “;she became a very powerful person.”;

Her mother, now in hospice services receiving palliative care, had the paper when they went to see a specialist, Dullin said. “;She wanted to make sure her specialist knew what her wishes were and would he follow them.”;

The specialist gave her mother different health-care scenarios and reviewed her choices on the directive to make sure they were what she wanted, Dullin said.

Jeannette Koijane, executive director of Kokua Mau, a partnership of more than 250 individuals and organizations, said, “;Our whole mission is to try to improve care people get at the end of life.”;

“;For those of us who have been there, it is often such a stressful time we don't know actually what to do. Any guidepoint you get is so important,”; she said. “;When I had to make decisions for mom, I knew the decisions I was making were what she wanted, and all of us could feel good about those decisions.”;

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Free forms for an advance care directive are available through HMSA.com or kokuamau.org. The form should be signed with two witnesses but does not need to be notarized. Call 585-9977.