Letter to the Editor: Make last wishes known through advance directive


Health care surveys routinely show that given the choice most people would prefer to spend their final days at home. Yet that choice, and others critical to your own healthcare decisions, are often taken away when a person’s last wishes are not documented and expressed to family, loved ones, and physicians.

With the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990, Congress affirmed every citizen’s right to establish future health care decisions with a legally binding advance directive. Yet, it’s estimated that only about 25 percent of Americans have taken this initiative. This is an astonishingly low estimate considering that advance directives can be completed at no cost, without an attorney, and in a short time.

National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16 is an opportunity to provide this much-needed information to the public, often channeled through health care organizations, such as Blue Ridge Hospice, which provide the necessary tools to create your own advance directive.

Blue Ridge Hospice has taken a leadership role in promoting the importance of creating an advance directive. Through Virginia’s Advanced Care Planning initiative, Blue Ridge Hospice has formed a team of trained staff members to instruct health care professionals on the importance of promoting advance directives to the public. In turn, they will serve as resources. As an advocate for advance directives, Blue Ridge Hospice hopes to bring more exposure to this critical and overlooked component of each individual’s health care plan.

There are no wrong answers when considering an advance directive form. The only wrong decision is not filling out the form and leaving it to your loved ones in the event you are not capable of making decisions for yourself. Please use April 16 to decide, discuss, and document your wishes about your health care by including an advance directive as an important part of your personal documents. For additional information, visit the Blue Ridge Hospice website.

Ernest J. Carnevale Jr., President & CEO
Blue Ridge Hospice