It’s about writing your own final chapter

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), April 16, is a day to encourage everyone ages 18 and older to have family discussions about personal values and beliefs, to choose a spokesperson, and to complete a health care proxy.

“Most people near the end of life lack the ability to make their own decisions about the treatment they wish to receive, as well as what they want to avoid,” said Patricia Bomba, M.D., vice president of Geriatrics at Univera Healthcare. “Advance care planning is essential to ensure that patients receive care and treatment that reflects their values, beliefs and goals for care and treatment.”

Nearly nine out of 10 upstate New York adults are aware of the term, “health care proxy,” according to a survey commissioned by Univera. Among respondents who had heard the term, 89 percent know that it is a way to legally designate someone as your health care agent to represent you during a medical crisis if you can’t speak for yourself. Despite high awareness and knowledge of the health care proxy term, the survey also revealed that only about four out of 10 upstate New York adults have completed a health care proxy form.

Univera has dedicated time and resources to get people to make their wishes known both verbally and in writing.

In 2001, Univera created the template for “Community Conversations on Compassionate Care,” a facilitated group discussion and presentation on advance care directives (health care proxies, living wills, MOLST, etc.). Trained facilitators have hosted hundreds of sessions across upstate New York.

Univera led the development of a free community website,, with information on advance care planning, free downloadable forms and instructional videos.

Univera pioneered the creation of New York state’s Medical Orders For Life-Sustaining Treatment, also known as the MOLST Form, and the first in the nation eMOLST that’s housed in a patient’s electronic medical records. MOLST is a document that patients with advanced chronic illness and frailty complete with their doctor. The hard copy MOLST Form, and the electronic eMOLST stay with the patient so end-of-life preferences will be followed as he or she moves through the health care system ─ facility to facility, physician to physician.

With support from Univera, MOLST is a legally recognized medical order form for seriously ill persons in New York State, joining the health care proxy and New York State Living Will as legally binding tools for end-of-life care planning.

In 2010, and with Univera’s active involvement, New York’s Family Healthcare Decisions Act became law, enabling a patient’s family member to make health care decisions when the patient is not able to do so…even patients who did not complete a health care proxy.

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