LIMA — Mercy Heath-St. Rita’s Medical Center opened its doors to seniors and their families Tuesday for National Healthcare Decisions Day to help with education and advance care planning.
Advanced directive forms, including healthcare power of attorney, living will and do-not-resuscitate, were available on-site, as were employees to answer general questions.
Herbert Wilker, Hospice/Homecare Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator at St. Rita’s, said the hospital wanted to hold an open house so community members could have this access now, rather than later.
“The day is all about planning in advance to make healthcare choices and have those conversations about those what-ifs,” Wilker said. “While they’re doing the documents, more importantly is having the conversation about what they want to have done in the event they’re unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves, so that really the person who is completing them are the ones who are truly making the decisions, and the loved ones are carrying them out for them.”
There was a similar session at Old Barn Out Back Restaurant, where Community Resources of Northwest Ohio, Truster Senior Services of Northwest Ohio and Advocacy Professionals offered similar information. David Painter, of the Ohio Department of Insurance, spoke about how to assist people on Medicare and the different parts of Medicare, including Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans. They also heard from Dave Embaugh, a regional sales manager to Medicare I, and Georgiana Saffle, the founder of Advocacy Professionals.
Not many turned out for the open house at St. Rita’s, but Wilker stressed the hospital will always have resources available any time at the information desk or at spiritual care.
Wilker said those who did utilize the open house were mostly seniors looking to complete their documents or update them. However, there were some middle-aged adults who trickled in for themselves or their family members.
“I think what happens mostly is people that are coming in prior to a procedure, if they’ve got something going on that could potentially be major, that will prompt them to have quick interest in having the documents complete,” Wilker said. “Or, if they have a first-hand or second-hand experience where something has happened to somebody, they want to be prepared. That may prompt them to have things in order before it gets to that point.”
St. Rita’s will be hosting additional community events for those interested in learning more or completing advance directives documents.
“I think people respond better when they know it’s educational, when they’re not in a position where they have to make decisions just yet,” Wilker said. “They can come in because it’s a safe way to approach it with it now versus when somebody is in a hospital bed.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.