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Essentia Health can help with advance care planning

Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and friends. Essentia Health reminds everyone that this is also a perfect time to discuss advance care planning, the kind of care you would want if you became seriously ill or injured or unable to speak for yourself.

When life-limiting or end-of-life decisions must be made and patients cannot speak for themselves, the burden falls on family members. They often don't know what to do and struggle through the process.

Advance care planning is not simply filling out an advance care directive. It involves talking with patients and decision-makers to make sure values, beliefs and wishes are known and accurately recorded in medical records.

Entering directive plans into medical records is now easier than ever. Essentia Health patients can complete directives directly in their MyHealth account. MyHealth is Essentia's secure, online service that allows patients to connect with their care team. Sign up at www.EssentiaMyHealth.org.

To get started, think about goals and values related to health care and quality of life. Talk with family, friends and others who may be involved in health care decisions in the future. Select an agent who will be able to make decisions. Write down wishes, choices and preferences in a health care directive.

It's important to point out that once an advance directive is completed, through MyHealth or by paper, the document will need to be notarized or signed by two witnesses, then mailed, faxed or emailed to Essentia Health to be incorporated into the medical record.

For more information on Essentia's Advance Care Planning, call 218-828-7530 to ask questions or to set up an appointment with a trained facilitator.

Honoring Choices, a public health initiative focused on advance care planning, also has steps to start the conversation with family and friends, along with videos to help guide discussions: " target="_blank">www.honoringchoices.org/events/thanksgiving.

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