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USA Health volunteers learned about the Alabama Council of Hospital Auxiliaries’ state service project at a recent Volunteer Services luncheon.

Published May 2nd, 2024

It’s not too early to make your wishes known about the medical care you want – or don’t want – should you not be able to speak for yourself.

That’s the message to the state’s hospital volunteers and others from the Alabama Council of Hospital Auxiliaries (ACHA), which has chosen the importance of advance directives as its 2023-2024 state service project. An advance directive is used to tell your family, physician, nurse or other members of the healthcare team what kind of medical care you want if you are too sick or hurt to talk or make decisions.

“We want to be sure that the hospital and your family know your wishes in case you ever become terminally ill or permanently unconscious,” said USA Health Spiritual Care Manager Kim Crawford Meeks, speaking to attendees at a recent USA Health Volunteer Services luncheon. “I have seen many families really struggle, especially when the family members disagree about their loved one’s wishes.”

The ACHA is asking auxiliary members to consider an advance directive and to encourage friends, family members and fellow volunteers to also start a conversation about their wishes with their loved ones. Those wishes could include whether to receive treatments such as a ventilator or a feeding tube that would extend a person’s life even if he or she does not get better.

With an advance directive, “everyone can look at it and say, ‘Let’s honor this person’s wishes,’” Crawford Meeks said. “It really helps our medical professionals, too.”

In Alabama, there are several types of advance directives, including:

  • A living will: Used to document ahead of time what care you want or don’t want if you are too sick to speak for yourself.
  • A proxy: Someone chosen by you to speak on your behalf and make choices you would make if you could. It’s important to talk to your designated person to make sure they know your wishes.
  • A durable power of attorney: A signed document that can be used, among other things, to designate your proxy for medical care decisions.

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