Maine Health Care Advance Directive – Taking Charge of Your Health Care

>>PATTI CAMPBELL: Andrew was – he loved life.
The only conversation I had with Andrew about end of life decision was about organ donation.
He lost his driver’s license, couldn’t find it anywhere. So he had to get a new one, and
when he came home he showed me the little red heart on the license that designated he
was an organ donor and I said, well, so am I, and that’s great. I regret that that didn’t
encourage us to talk about end of life things. We probably should have taken it further.
When Andrew was brought to the hospital, he was really in a comatose state basically then.
He was having difficulty breathing, it was very labored and not regular at all, so we
hoped and prayed that he would be okay, but it didn’t turn out that way. The CAT scan
showed that he was brain dead, basically. It took us a couple of days to decide really
to let him go. We didn’t know if that’s what he wanted. Did he want to stay alive on life
support? I don’t know.>>KHANH NGO: It took me by surprise when
I got the phone call that she was in the hospital. The doctor pretty much told me, she’s at the
end of her life. She’s probably got about 72 hours left. Her organs are going to fail,
so what should we do? So I started asking all what her wishes were. Her wish was to
go home and die at home, where she’s comfortable. And during that time is when my brother got
involved, and he at the time was living in New Jersey. All this time I relay what mother
wanted. And when he got there, he kind of had his own idea of what he wanted. And he
is my older brother, and I almost wished that he would have taken care of the whole thing
and I could have taken a back seat because I almost didn’t want to make the decision.
But I also respected my mother a lot, and I wanted her to have her wishes. Right away
we got into a heated match of just verbal back and forth, and I said, if it was up to
me, I would like her to stay here in the hospital, but it’s not up to me. She wants to go home,
so we’re going to make that. And he said no, leave her here. And within about 6 hours,
her heart just stopped.>>JESSICA SHERB: An advance directive is
a plan that allows somebody a principle person, to sign a document authorizing another person,
who we call an agent, to make medical decisions for them if they’re not able to do so themselves.
Most people will need to rely on an advanced directive at some point during their lives,
so it’s very important for everybody, no matter how old or how young you are, to have that
document in place. You want to make sure that you have authorized somebody that you trust,
that you are comfortable with, to make medical decisions for you when you’re not able to.>>GREG BURNS: The last thing people want
to kind of think about is their death. You know, by choosing not to enter the process
you’re still making a choice and that choice is to allow somebody else to make kind of
decisions that maybe you don’t want other people making.>>JESSICA: A lot of people will think that
a parent or a spouse is automatically authorized to make decisions for somebody, and under
Maine law, there is priority for certain people to make decisions for a patient that’s not
able to do so. But a doctor is first and foremost going to ask if there’s an advanced care plan
in place, if there’s an advanced care directive naming agents to make decisions for them.
And it’s easy to see how you can run into issues very quickly with people having conflicting
ideas about what the patient might want.>>GREG: Making sure that all of the parties
that need to be on the table are at the table, and are part of the conversation, can avoid
people straying from the plan.>>PATTI: The transplant coordinators came
to us to ask us, to remind us that Andrew had made that decision. Andrew’s dad was totally
against that he would not sign away to do it, or whatever. He said, you cannot do that
to my son. Finally, he came around but it was very difficult for him, because he had
not had that conversation with Andrew, and I never really got the opportunity to talk
to Andrew about any other planning, which makes it difficult in the end, because you
are making these decisions and you just hope and pray that you’re doing what your child
wanted.>>JESSICA: A lot of young, healthy people
think why do I need to engage in this type of planning? It’s not going to happen to me.
I’m not going to need to have somebody make decisions for me. And ironically that’s the
best time to be engaging in this type of planning and having these types of conversations.>>PATTI:Kids at 22, they think they’re invincible,
they have a long life ahead of them and hopefully they do, but accidents happen, things happen.
Talk to your children in regards to end of life decisions. It’s awful to do it in that
moment when you really have no choices.>>JESSICA: I typically advise people to see
an attorney to have these documents prepared, just to make sure that they are completely
in line with what their wishes are. That said, the state of Maine, many hospitals, will provide
a form of advanced care directive, and there’s one included in the Maine law that talks about
what an advanced care directive is. You can simply copy and paste that, you can go to
a number of websites and find an advanced care directive that you can fill out yourself.>>GREG: Yes, it’s ultimately about the death
but it’s also about morals and values and thoughts and feelings, and how those all come
together to make decisions around what you ultimately want.>>KHANH: If I would have had all the advanced
care planning ahead of time, it would have made me not look like the bad guy, meaning
they had specific question of why didn’t I continue care, and I wouldn’t have been able
to just say, because my mother did not want it. And it’s here written down. In the end,
my brother and I don’t speak to each other now. My advice going forward to anybody would
be if you have parents or if you have husband, any relative, is at some point you want to
talk to them and find out what their view of what they would like to happen, because
it ease the pain of the person that’s left behind to make the hard decision, and question
whether it was the best decision.>>PATTI:I wish that we had talked about it.
It’s very important. I just hope and pray I did the right thing, and I don’t know if
I did. [ Music ]

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