WMH Offers Free Living Will Registration

Winslow Memorial Hospital is offering free registration of a living will or health care proxy for any person wishing to register. Once registered, your wishes in these important medical matters will be recorded with the U.S. Living Will Registry and be readily available when needed by any health care provider or hospital.

State law now requires that hospitals inquire as to whether patients have a living will or medical power of attorney in effect and, if they do not, to offer them an opportunity to create one.

A living will is a legal document in which you state the kinds of health care you want or don’t want under circumstances when you could not otherwise make your wishes known. For example, you may ask that everything possible be done to sustain your life regardless of the state and quality of life possible. Or, you may direct that you do not wish heroic measures be taken to sustain life if you are in a terminal condition, an irreversible coma or a vegetative state. This document allows you to determine the extent of the treatment you wish to have while you still have the ability to make such decisions.

In the absence of instructions otherwise, “full code” procedures will be utilized to revive a patient. Full code procedures include aggressive CPR, which might be mechanical or electrical stimulation of the heart and mechanical ventilation (forcing of air into the lungs. Instructions (as could be stated in a living will or by your designee in a medical power of attorney) to “do not resuscitate” (DNR). DNR amounts to instructions not to use aggressive CPR or electrical heart stimulation. Hospitals would still take all less aggressive and drastic steps in an attempt to sustain life.

Should you choose, you may use this registry service to designate a person to exercise a medical power of attorney for you. By registering such a document, one can insure that someone of his or her choosing will make decisions regarding medical care at times when one is unable to do so.

This program was founded in 1996 by Dr. Joseph T. Barmakian who noted the ordeal that patients experienced as they confronted difficult and some times guilt-ridden decisions of life support and medical treatment for loved ones. Doctors also have felt the frustration of having to treat patients in such situations without the knowledge of their wishes. Those who wish to register as organ donors may also do so through this service.

It should be noted that the living will or medical power of attorney would not take effect so long as a patient is capable of making his own decisions and making his wishes known. Also, the U.S. Living Will Registry will contact registrants once a year to be certain that their instructions are current. A registrant may change his or her instructions at any time.

Winslow Memorial made offering the living will and medical power of attorney proxy registration part of its Hospital Week activities in May. That week was filled with free diagnostic tests and medical and health care informational presentations by physicians and other qualified health care professionals.

The hospital and its staff are committed to providing its patients and the community with a high quality medical facility. The living will program is just one of the many services and programs which the hospital provides. Winslow and the community can take comfort in the knowledge that quality medical services will be available when needed at Winslow Memorial Hospital.

Those wishing to avail themselves of the living will or medical power of attorney registration service should contact the hospital at 289-4691. Medical Social Workers Julie Greer and Jean Ramsey will be happy to answer any questions and assist in the preparation of the documents.

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