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In this Wednesday, April 13, 2016, photo, Herbert Diamond, 88, of Fort Lee, NJ, interviews with Dr. Manisha Parulekar about his preferences at the end of his life at Hackensack Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ for years before the Affordable Care Act there was a consensus of Bipartisan on the value of helping people understand their end-of-life desires and make those desires public. A 1991 law passed under President George HW Bush requires hospitals and nursing homes to assist patients who wish to prepare living wills and advance directives.

It is impossible to know what will happen from day to day. This is why it is important to plan ahead.

April 16 is the annual date for National Health Care Decisions Day, an initiative to encourage people to make their own future health care decisions before a crisis hits. That means taking the time to write an advance directive, a document that lets loved ones, providers, and facilities know what life-sustaining treatments a person wants if they can’t speak for themselves.

To honor this national initiative, eight Utah health organizations have come together to spread awareness about the need for people to issue advance directives. Organizations include Comagin Health, Intermountain Health, Mountain Star Healthcare, Steward Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Utah Hospital Association, Utah Geriatric Education Consortium and the Utah Nurses Association.

Governor Spencer Cox has also designated April 16 as Utah Health Care Decision Day.

“Having a trusted healthcare representative who is familiar with your wishes is the most important part of advancing guidance. Doing so means you’ll have an attorney who can speak for you,” said Dr. Dominic Moore, MD, pediatric palliative care physician at University of Utah Health and chief medical officer of Palliative Care. about medical decisions when you just can’t.” Intermountain Health, in a news release. “When someone’s desires are unknown, these difficult situations can be filled with uncertainty or guilt.”

When COVID-19 was in full force, many people faced serious illnesses and emergencies in which they were unable to make up their own mind. Doctors who care for these and other critically ill patients say advance directives are important for everyone, especially if they have a serious chronic condition.

During these often difficult conversations, palliative care physicians encourage people to share what makes them feel like they are living life, not just existing. Advance directives help paint a picture, so that others can make decisions about questions that are hard to predict in advance.

Filling out and sharing an advance directive form makes it official. But, it’s also important to have a conversation with your healthcare representative and other loved ones, so they all know who has been assigned to make medical decisions for you, when you can’t make those decisions yourself. These conversations will help others, too. It helps you understand your values ​​and the quality of life that matters to you,” said Dr. Philip Ross, Chief Medical Officer of MountainStar Healthcare, in the release.

Health providers say it’s a good idea to update advance directives annually, or if one of the “fours” occurs: a diagnosis, or receiving a serious diagnosis; a deterioration in health; a divorce, which usually affects the person charged with making medical decisions on behalf of the spouse; and death of the designated healthcare representative.

“Having a signed advance directive is especially important for those who live in rural areas, where accessing care often requires leaving your home community for treatment in a remote urban setting. Obtaining official documentation during those Challenging Transitions helps ensure healthcare representatives are included in conversations and your wishes are honored.

Advance directives can be completed online, at home, on paper, or in a doctor’s office or hospital.

For more information, including state-specific requirements, visit Utah advance directive forms can be found in both English and Spanish at

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