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Make Today the Day You Take Action on Your Advanced Directives

Today, April 16, we celebrate National Healthcare Decisions Day by asking people to have conversations about their health care decisions.  We ask them to talk about things that are not always easy to bring up.  For instance, we ask people to talk about choosing one or two of their closest family members or friends to be their representative if they can’t make decisions on their own.  And we ask them to talk about the kind of health care treatment they might want during the end stages of a life-threatening illness.  We also ask people to not only talk about completing, but more importantly, actually filling out their own Advance Directives. These topics are not often on the top of anyone’s list of favorite things to talk about, for sure.

But talking about those topics is an important gift you can give yourself and your family.  National statistics suggest that most people want to make their wishes known about their treatment at the end of life, and want to have conversations with their doctors and loved ones about their values and beliefs, yet most have not yet done so.  But we want to change that by helping you start conversations of your own.

Take a look at these five steps for ideas and actions you can take to make your own health care decisions known:

  1. Learn more about Advance Directives.
  2. Select your Representative/surrogate.
  3. Complete your Advance Directives documents.
  4. Talk to your surrogate, loved ones and your providers about your wishes.
  5. Review your Advance Directives periodically to be sure they are current.

If you need help thinking of ways to bring up topics like these to loved ones visit our website - it has some great ideas for you. Make it a goal to complete or review your own Advance Directives documents.  And make today the day you start to talk about your health care decisions.  This stuff matters . .  . so don't be afraid to talk about it!

Leslie Kuhnel, MPA, MSHCE
Leslie Kuhnel, MPA, MSHCE

Leslie Kuhnel is the regional ethicist for CHI Health, an integrated faith-based healthcare system serving Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. In her role, she provides leadership for various healthcare ethics initiatives, serves as the primary ethics consultant for the region, and conducts numerous ethics education programs for healthcare professionals and the community. She facilitates several ethics committees and consults frequently with clinical staff, patients and their families about the ethical dimensions of healthcare delivery. Kuhnel has been serving in the Ethics Center since 2002. Kuhnel earned a Doctorate in Bioethics with concentrations in Catholic Bioethics and Clinical Ethics at Loyola University in Chicago in May 2018. She completed the Master’s of Science in Health Care Ethics (MSHCE) degree from Creighton University in 2013 and a Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2005. Kuhnel has extensive experience in ethics consultation and policy development, particularly within the context of Catholic healthcare delivery. She has also been involved in leadership formation activities at the local and regional level. She serves on the Creighton University IRB. Her areas of interest include healthcare delivery throughout the care continuum, ethics and end-of-life care, advanced care planning and Advance Directives, diversity and cultural humility, healthcare access and disparity, and understanding the principles of ethics in action. Kuhnel has presented and published regionally, nationally and internationally on topics related to healthcare ethics.

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