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Organization: Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation
Date: April 3, 2009
Henry Mayo Encourages Making Healthcare Decisions When Healthy
Free Community Lecture April 8
VALENCIA, CA (April 1, 2009) — In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital urges all adults — including healthy individuals — to consider what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves, and then make certain their choices are followed by completing an Advance Health Care Directive.
    "What could be more important than your decision of how to manage your own health care?" asks Michael Magnusen, MSW, a social work case manager at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. "We would like to help you gather the information you need to make decisions about your care before you need it. This way, you can make an informed, thoughtful decision when you are not under any pressure."
    Magnusen explains that people have the right to control their healthcare options, such as exercising the right to choose in advance whether or not to accept life-sustaining treatments.
    Some may wonder exactly what an Advance Health Care Directive is. Anyone interested in learning more about this important document is encouraged to attend a free community lecture hosted by Henry Mayo Hospital and the SCV Senior Center on April 8, 2009, from 1:00 pm 2:00 pm. The lecture will be held at the SCV Senior Center, 22900 Market Street, Newhall 91321. For more information, phone (661) 259-9444.
    As director of Henry Mayo's critical care services, Dee Rickett, RN, MSN is all too-familiar with the choices that family members are sometimes forced to make.
    "An advance directive is your life on your terms. Whether you're 18 or 80, there's a risk that an accident or illness could affect your health," explains Rickett. "Documenting your wishes today means your family won't have to make heart-wrenching decisions later."
    Under California state law, adults have the legal right to express their health care wishes and to have them followed. Many people operate under the mistaken impression that it suffices to tell friends and relatives how they would wish their care to be managed if they were in a life-threatening situation. Unless a patient's wishes have been put in writing, there is a good chance they will not be honored. An advance directive — such as living will, durable power of attorney, and health care proxy — describes the kind of treatment you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions.
     "We encourage everyone to talk with their family, friends, and doctor," said Magnusen. "They should know their options, decide what's right for them, and then put it in writing. Legally communicating wishes about end-of-life care will ensure that patients face the end of their lives with dignity and with the same values by which they have lived."
    California law requires certain provisions be included in the advance health care directive, including a witness signature by either a notary or two people who are not named in the document, for it to be valid; however, it is not necessary to consult with an attorney. Many physician offices, hospice care providers, and hospitals, such as Henry Mayo, have health care directives available. In addition, a wide array of resources can be found on the internet.
    Once the advance health care directive is completed, individuals should store the document in a safe and easily acessible place, and provide copies to their physician, family and close friends.
    More information on Advance Health Care Directives will be available during the lecture on April 8, 2008 at the SCV Senior Center. Advance Health Care Directives can also be downloaded from the hospital's Web site at www.henrymayo.com.
* * *
ABOUT HENRY MAYO — Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is a 221 bed not-for-profit acute care hospital serving the Santa Clarita Valley since 1975. Services include trauma, emergency, intensive care, maternity, surgery, nursing, wound care, behavioral health, and acute rehab, as well as cancer, cardiology, imaging, lab, digestive, respiratory services and physical and occupational therapies. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is located at 23845 McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355-2083. For more information, visit www.henrymayo.com or call 661-253-8000.
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