Free workshop to focus on advance directives

Posted April 29, 2010, at 7:16 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — It has been more than five years since Terri Schiavo and her family made national headlines and fueled conversations about the importance of advance directives and living wills. Still, in the years that have passed since her death, experts from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Program estimate that 70 percent of Americans still do not have an advance directive or living will.

Next week, Eastern Maine Medical Center, in collaboration with St. Joseph Healthcare, the University of Maine Center on Aging, and Eastern Area Agency on Aging, will hold a free seminar and workshop on advance directives. The event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, at the Cliff Eames Center at Bangor Savings Bank on Maine Avenue in Bangor.

“Advance care planning is a process aimed at extending the rights of competent adults to guide their medical care through periods of decisional incapacity,” said Jessica Miller, EMMC clinical ethicist. “The process involves three steps. The first is to think through your values and preferences. The second is to talk about your values and preferences with others. And the third is to legally document these wishes. Doing this helps match patient care with patient goals, reduces the likelihood of conflicts, and minimizes the burden of decision-making on family members and friends.”

Miller will join panelists Dr. James VanKirk of EMMC Palliative Care Services, Judy Young, director of Chaplain Services at St. Joseph Healthcare, and attorney Sandra Rothera of the law firm Gross, Minsky and Mogul to highlight the importance of signing an advance directive and discuss what information to include in the document. After the discussion, staff will be available to assist attendees in completing their own advance directive. A notary public will be on hand to certify the authenticity of the signature and the advance directive.

For information and to reserve a seat, call at 973-8290.

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