It’s important to guard your medical treatment preferences in case you become incapacitated, but advance care planning can be complex and stressful. A free new program called CHAT (Conversations: Health and Treatments) eases the process of choosing medical directives, appointing a decision maker and reviewing plans.
Physicians, lawyers and public health professionals from Northwell Health and the Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy at Hofstra University give free CHAT presentations to encourage attendees to talk to loved ones about their health and the care they want. At the forums, participants make sense of advance directive forms, like health care proxies, living wills and Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).
CHAT representatives then follow up on questions about advance care planning or documentation. Community members can also take advantage of a free one-on-one legal consultation by appointment through the Gitenstein Institute. Working with doctors, participants can also file documents with their primary care physicians.
Expressing "How We Want to Live"
“This program encourages important conversations between individuals and their loved ones,” said Maria Carney, MD, chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell. “We equip participants to make informed decisions about their care in case they become unable to speak for themselves.”
While advance care planning includes end-of-life care, that’s not the entire picture, Dr. Carney said. “Advance care planning is about how we want to live--to get out of the hospital as soon as possible, to get home and live comfortably as long as possible. Healthcare is increasingly complex. It’s important to identify someone to help with decision making.”
A recent CHAT presentation at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury attracted about 100 attendees. “Members of the center were receptive to discussing advance care planning that aligned with Islamic beliefs,” said Steven Walerstein, MD, associate chief medical officer and senior vice president of medical affairs at Northwell. “For example, it is acceptable to support someone during the natural dying process and in line with palliative care if someone chooses that,” he said.
Mohammed Ghouri, 57, a businessman from Syosset, attended the event. “I valued the CHAT presentation and believe it is essential for everyone’s life,” he said, adding that the forum motivated him to discuss advance care planning with his wife and his two children, ages 20 and 11. “We decided to sign health care proxies and other documents that we will discuss and sign with our attorney.”
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