Wednesday, April 15, 2015

National Healthcare Decisions Day April 16, 2015: Putting philosophy into action!

by Katie Neuendorf

I try very hard to mean what I say, say what I mean and make sure that my actions and my words are in sync. I don’t pretend that this makes me unique in any way – I believe that there are many of us out there every day trying to live by this philosophy. Sometimes when we follow this philosophy, we can get others talking.

Luckily, I was given the opportunity at Cleveland Clinic to take this philosophy to the masses on April 16th, National Healthcare Decisions Day. And I’ll bet you could do it at your institution too!

There has been an interest at my organization over the last few years to make sure that patients are getting the type of care which they are seeking. One of the results of this interest was the creation of a task force to look into advance directive completion.

Enter palliative care! We needed to provide healthcare professionals with the education to know what these documents are, why they are important and how to find them. So I was approached with two main asks:

  • Get as many Cleveland Clinic caregivers educated about Advance Directives as possible
  • Help people to see that Advance Directives are about planning ahead and not about Death and Dying

After years of seeing April 16th advertised on Pallimed as NHDD, I figured this would be the perfect date on which to host a campaign! This brings me back to that initial philosophy. We decided that the best way to start talking about Advance Directives at Cleveland Clinic was to lead by example. It made sense that our caregivers would seek more complete information on AD if we made it personal to them. And we felt that the best way to keep the message simple was to start with Health Care Power of Attorney documents. Our campaign on April 16th is to encourage Cleveland Clinic caregivers to fill out their own HCPOA. Who better than the people working in healthcare to realize that life tomorrow may look completely different from life today? We’ve raised awareness about the event– caregiver to caregiver - we’ve created an online module for enhanced learning and we have the next event planned in our minds.

What I’m hoping the readers of Pallimed will take away is that I only had to propose this idea one time! It was fully supported and embraced by the institution. To underscore how supported this campaign is, our Chief of Staff will be signing his document at the event! I spoke to a group of Clinical Nurse Specialists about the event and before I left the meeting, they were asking if I could send references on how to have the conversation with their HCPOA. The woman who designed the AD online module told me that she will be coming to the campaign because she absolutely wants to have her HCPOA signed and a group of individuals from our media department said they were discussing the importance of advance directives through their lunch break.

So what philosophy are you living by that you can bring to the masses? You may be surprised by the overwhelming support that your organization may have for you.

Don't forget to check out Pallimed's advocacy resource page for NHDD 2015!

Katie Neuendorf is a Palliative Care physician at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She spends a significant portion of her time in education, half of which is devoted to her role as the Medical Director for the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication and the other half in her role as an inpatient palliative consultant.  Time away from work is happily spent with her husband and their 3 young kids enjoying the Cleveland Metroparks, playing all kinds of sports and repeatedly losing to a 4 and 6 year old at Connect 4.

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