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News Advance Directives

Advance Directives

Mt. Vernon and Centralia,

​Take your health care into your own hands.

Sally Waters, Director of Palliative Care, and Jeff Stewart, Director of Pastoral Care, recently spoke to the Centralia Rotary Club about advance directives.

Advance directives (AD) give caregivers instructions on the kind of care patients would like to receive should they become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. AD take away the burdens of decision-making from families, lets them heal, and promotes end-of-life spiritual perspective. In addition, an AD is designed to foster the following three Catholic Guiding Principles:

  1. Human life is a gift from God that must be protected.
  2. Death is a beginning, not an end.
  3. We have a right to direct out own care. It is the job of the hospital to clearly and accurately inform us of our health condition and treatment options. We can then choose to receive or refuse the treatment options offered.

Sally Waters clarified that an AD is expressed and documented by individuals so that medical staff and families know, in advance, what course of action is desired in personal health care. An AD may be scanned into a person's electronic medical information file at their physician's office or at the hospital when being admitted.  The AD can be changed at any time and should be reviewed with the person's doctor each year. Illinois law requires that the most recently dated AD be followed. This process allows the patient's choices to be known if the patient is not able to speak for themselves.  This also gives the family the peace of mind of knowing their loved ones' desires.

Advance Directives include a Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Living Will, a Power of Attorney for Mental Health, and a Practitioner's Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. The most often used AD is the Power of Attorney (POA) for Health Care.  This document may be specific or may be general enough that a family member can decide on treatment based on information from the medical team. The POA for Health Care never expires. As previously mentioned, it may be filed electronically with the health care provider, or may be kept in a prominent place in the home or car where it will be easily obtained by the family or the EMTs/Paramedics who transport the person for hospital care. The POA for Health Care gives the person the patient trusts the permission to make choices for the patient's care based on information given by the medical providers. This can be helpful if a new treatment or medicine has been developed to treat the patient's condition since the most recent AD was signed.

For more information on Illinois Advance Directives visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website.