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Honoring Choices Wisconsin helps coordinate statewide National Healthcare Decisions Day events

Release Date: April 11, 2016
Contact: Jennifer Wieman - 608.442.3765 jennifer.wieman@wismed.org

MADISON(April 11, 2016)—Honoring Choices Wisconsin (HCW), an initiative of the Wisconsin Medical Society, is highlighting the importance of advance care planning on National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), Saturday, April 16. Events are planned across the state throughout the month of April. A day being recognized by many national, state and community organizations along with HCW, the theme for NHDD 2016 is, “It’s always too early, until it’s too late.”

HCW is providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and health care providers and complete written advance directives. These resources are available at www.honoringchoiceswi.org. In addition, HCW is partnering with organizations across the state to engage local communities, with more than 25 events occurring throughout April. Here are a few upcoming highlights:

  • On Thursday, April 14, Aspirus is hosting a one-hour coffee and community conversation event at Aspirus Wausau Hospital (offered at 7:30 a.m. and noon). Dubbed Brewing the Conversation…about Advance Care Planning, the event will offer community members the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences, values and beliefs and complete a written advance directive.
  • On Saturday, April 16, HCW is hosting a documentary screening and community discussion at Sequoya Library in Madison. The event will feature a screening of the PBS documentary, “Nine to Ninety” and will end with a discussion about ACP, facilitated by Erin Aagesen, community engagement specialist at HCW. The event will begin at 2 p.m.
  • On Monday, April 25, several partners in Jefferson County will host a theatrical event at The Gobbler Theatre in Johnson Creek. The event will feature two funny, one-act plays designed to inspire community members to think about end-of-life decisions. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. and will include performances of “Death Knocks” by Woody Allen and “Death Takes the Train” by D. M. Larson. The event is organized by Fort HealthCare, Rainbow Hospice Care and Watertown Regional Medical Center. Register at PlanNow.EventBrite.com.

In addition, several other NHDD-themed efforts have already taken place. Here are three of them:

  • On April 5, HCW hosted a three-hour workshop in Pewaukee for health care providers, “Advance Care Planning with Diverse Ethnic Groups” featuring UW-Milwaukee social work professor Jung Kwak, PhD. In this workshop, Dr. Kwak guided professionals through an exploration of cultural traditions, norms and values and how they relate to end-of-life issues. Thirty-five people attended the event.
  • On April 7, Bellin Health and Unity Hospice in Green Bay hosted an evening of film, food and conversation at Lambeau Field with former Green Bay Packers player Ahman Green, who shared a personal story of the importance of advance care planning. More than 175 people attended the event, which also featured the documentary film, “Consider the Conversation” and a panel discussion including a physician, attorney, registered nurse and chaplain.
  • In February, Gov. Scott Walker signed a proclamation in support of NHDD. The proclamation recognizes advance care planning as a process throughout life, encourages Wisconsin citizens to have in-depth conversations with their loved ones about their health care wishes, and recognizes the importance of improving ACP systems and policies within health care organizations. This effort was coordinated by the State Bar of Wisconsin.

“Through our National Healthcare Decisions Day activities, many more people in our community will be able to engage in thoughtful conversations about advance care planning and make their wishes known,” said Aagesen. “The more people who have conversations about their end-of-life wishes, the fewer struggles family members will have making medical decisions in crisis situations. Health care teams will be better prepared to honor the patient’s end-of-life wishes.”

Twenty-nine health systems in Wisconsin participate in HCW. And through HCW, the Society has been working to make advance care planning a routine and standard part of care.

With nearly 12,500 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Wisconsin Medical Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and has been a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841. For more information about Honoring Choices Wisconsin, visit www.honoringchoiceswi.org. For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day, visit www.nhdd.org.