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Public invited to free seminar on end-of-life planning

Hospital news | Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Can you imagine being too ill to make your own healthcare decisions? Something happens–a critical injury, a debilitating illness, lack of response to a lifesaving treatment–and acting on your own behalf is no longer possible. Who will make healthcare decisions for you? What decisions would you want made?

Diane Koth has been a social worker at Crossing Rivers Health for 28 years. She has helped many families throughout her career. Diane is sharing her own personal experience to encourage people to make their wishes known by completing their advanced directives. She knows that is important to have the end-of-life conversation, before it is too late, regarding finances, wills, organ donation, funeral planning and care options.

Diane’s story

Anything can happen to any of us, at any time. Are you prepared to make some very difficult decisions for your loved one? Ten years ago, my husband, Darrel, went in for surgery. The plan was that he would be hospitalized for three days and then return home. Complications from the surgery put him in and out of a coma for almost six months. Fortunately, because I am a Hospital Social Worker, we had sat down and had the conversation regarding life-prolonging treatment. We had completed our Power of Attorney for Health Care (POA-HC) documents, and I was able to speak with physicians to make some very difficult decisions based on my husband’s wishes. If we had not completed our POA-HC, I would have needed to go to court to be appointed his guardian. That would have definitely added another layer of stress to my life- which I did not need at that time. During the six months my husband was hospitalized I learned a lot, the hard way, regarding Power of Attorney for finances, end-of-life care, organ procurement and funeral planning.

On Wednesday, April 13, Crossing Rivers Health is offering a free community educational program, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the George Family Education Center, Crossing Rivers Health, 37868 US Hwy 18, Prairie du Chien. A panel of professionals will share information about the role and value of advance care planning information and the conversations families need to have before it’s too late. The experts include Attorney Lynn Rider with Czajkowski Higgins & Rider, S.C.; Funeral Director Ryan Kester, Grau Funeral Homes; Miranda Zuhlke with Organ Procurement; Julie Fagner RN, Crossing Rivers Health Hospice; and Dr. Owen Vincent, Crossing Rivers Health Clinics. Topics include Power of Attorney for Health Care, Financial POA, wills, organ donation and funeral planning.

Diane Koth adds, “Letting loved ones know your preferences is an invaluable gift to them. Individuals who are taking care of elderly family members and those who wish to start thinking about end-of-life decisions would benefit by attending.”

The social workers at Crossing Rivers Health remind area residents that they offer free assistance to individuals wanting to complete advanced directives. Appointments may be scheduled by calling 608-357-2045.