Published on April 17, 2020

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, advance care planning more important than ever

The best time to plan for health care choices is before a medical crisis occurs. During these uncertain times fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, advance care planning has become critically important. What if this virus leaves you unable to speak for yourself? Who would speak for you? What would you want them to know about your goals, values and wishes?

Essentia Health encourages you to name a health care agent and to complete an advance directive.

While COVID-19 can affect people of any age, it’s especially dangerous for those with underlying medical conditions and those over the age of 65. By having these conversations proactively, you can make sure that your preferences are understood if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Take time to think about:

  • Who would you want to be your health care agent, the person to speak for you?
  • What is important for you to live well?
  • What fears or worries do you have about your illness?
  • How do you want to be cared for if you became seriously ill?

“Being proactive in making medical decisions allows the patient’s medical team to understand and prepare for the patient’s wishes and preferences,” said Dr. Joe Bianco, a family practice physician at Essentia Health. “Entering into these conversations with our patients helps us to honor their choices.”

We encourage you to begin thinking about, talking about and writing down your goals, values and preferences, and to complete a health care directive. It’s important that you share that information with your loved ones and your health care team.

“Essentia Health has developed resources to promote advance care planning for all of our patients,” said Dr. Jonathan Sande, director of advance care planning for Essentia’s East Market. “We have a program in place to ensure that all patients can make their values, preferences and wishes known. We will bring this information into their medical record so the health care team can incorporate their wishes into their care.”

At Essentia, instead of in-person visits, we are offering online classes for those interested in learning more about advance care planning and completing an advance directive.

Register for upcoming classes, which are free and will be conducted via Zoom, a video conferencing platform. At that link, you also can access health care directives and additional resources.

For more information on health care directives, or to better understand the complications of COVID-19 with an underlying medical condition, please contact your primary care provider’s office to schedule a virtual visit. You can do so at EssentiaHealth.org or by calling (844) 663-1068.

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