Medical professionals discuss importance of advanced directives

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- It’s never an easy conversation-finding a person to care for loved one when they become seriously ill.

Families must decide who will be the sole medical provider to the patient.

An advanced directive can make the transition an easy process and improve quality at the end of life.

That’s where nurses are stepping in. It’s not an easy option.

At Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle the nurses, like Debra RhineWalt, are helping patients and families find advanced directives for medical assistance.

” They’ve gotten to a point where someone has to decide for them. Whether or not to sustain life in situations or how much to sustain life. How much to care, how much to give,” said Rhinewalt.

Rhinewalt works with the Palliative Care team as a Clinical Coordinator. She says a person is in good-standing health is the window to name an advanced directive and complete a living will.

Only one-third of U.S adults have appointed advanced directives.

” It never comes into play until the point the person is not able to answer. At that point, you would turn to whoever you’ve named in your advanced directive as your power of attorney. It would be their responsibility to do what you have directed,” said Rhinewalt.

” It’s the primary tool for someone to communicate and write down their wishes in the unfortunate event they become incapacitated and have a poor medical prognosis of a recovery,” said Chaplain Jonathan Blackburn.

On the document, patients can request medical assistance like a ventilator and artificial nutrients. They can even deny procedures.

In the state of Mississippi, a legal document says this.

” The person needs to be coherent and to know what he or she is signing. He or she needs to sign in the presence of two witnesses, and those witnesses can’t be family members, or they can use a notary instead of the witnesses,” said Blackburn.

When families tend to wait, it can lead to confusion and conflict.

” There’s a lot of guilt, there’s a lot of second-guessing did I do what was best?’. To prevent some of those things, I think there’s a lot of suffering that goes on,” said Rhinewalt.

But mostly, their job is to comfort.

” This part is definitely a chance to the person’s emotions, to their mind and spirit as well. I think an important thing for everyone to come to their own realization of is meaningful for them,” said Blackburn.

Chaplain Blackburn said another advanced directive can be listed if the primary provider can no longer hold that position.

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