Meridian Health is launching a Your Life, Your Wishes campaign to educate patients about the importance of advance care planning (ACP) and talking with their physicians and loved ones about their healthcare goals. This campaign is part of a larger regional effort that AllSpire Health Partners, an alliance of seven leading healthcare systems throughout the northeast, is supporting to raise awareness in their communities about the importance of advance care planning in combination with National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), which takes place on Saturday, April 16.
“Meridian Health is known for providing excellent care for our patients and that care extends to educating our patients about all of their healthcare planning options,” said John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president and CEO of Meridian Health. “Through the Your Life, Your Wishes campaign, our physicians and staff will be encouraging our patients to consider their health goals, values and preferences, and share their wishes with family members, healthcare providers and trusted others. These conversations will help patients and their loved ones plan ahead and advocate confidently and effectively for one another when it matters most.”
Polling shows that, while 82 percent of Americans believe in the importance of putting their healthcare preferences in writing, only 23 percent have followed through by executing advance directives. Similarly, more than 90 percent of Americans agree with the importance of having conversations with their loved ones about their care preferences, yet only 30 percent have actually made these thoughts and instructions known in advance. Deprived of vital information about what matters most to people when they are unable to make decisions about their treatment or explain their wishes, families and providers experience uncertainty, stress and the anxiety of wondering whether the decisions they are making will enhance or diminish their loved one’s quality of life.
“As a physician, I have seen so many families who did not have the important discussion about end-of-life care in advance, and were left wondering if the health care decisions they were left to make were the right ones,” said Amy Frieman, M.D., medical director, of Palliative Care for Meridian Health.
“The Your Life, Your Wishes initiative reminds all of us to sit down with our loved ones and make our wishes known so that we and they are confident that, in the future, the time we have left is spent focusing on what really matters to each of us.”
The Your Life, Your Wishes campaign is committed to educating people about advance care planning and encouraging them to communicate their healthcare wishes to one another well before decisions have to be made. This year’s NHDD theme is “It Always Seems Too Early . . . Until It’s Too Late,” and Meridian Health is determined that its participation in this year’s outreach efforts will encourage more patients to talk with their healthcare providers about advance care planning as an integral part of routine healthcare.
While conversations about advance care planning can be difficult, they are essential in helping patients and the people they trust feel more knowledgeable and confident about future healthcare decisions. Advance care planning begins with personal reflection about health goals, values and preferences, followed by multiple conversations with trusted others regarding critical medical situations that may arise in the future. With these conversations as a foundation, individuals can then create an advance directive that legally appoints a healthcare representative and an alternate representative, and documents information that will provide guidance for future treatment and healthcare decision making.
The AllSpire Your Life, Your Wishes campaign focuses on the following important elements:
- Advance care planning is not about death and dying. It is about individuals taking control of their healthcare future.
- Advance care planning is an integral part of complete healthcare throughout the entire cycle of life.
- Advance care planning begins with the first of many conversations that enable individuals to tell their providers, families and trusted others what really matters to them, and enable providers to help patients understand the medical conditions they may experience.
- Advance directives are legal documents that explain and preserve an individual’s goals, values and preferences so they can be communicated and honored when the individual cannot make or advocate for healthcare decisions. These documents can be tailored to individual needs.
For additional information regarding the Your Life, Your Wishes initiative, please visit YourLifeYourWishes.com, a new website devoted to providing the tools and resources individuals and families need to plan and share their healthcare wishes with the people who will be acting on their behalf. Additionally, you can find more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day at NHDD.org.
About Meridian Health
A leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, fitness and wellness centers, and outpatient centers. In May, Meridian Health and Hackensack University Health Network signed a definitive agreement to merge. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” for six consecutive years, and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence. Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium alongside six of the nation’s leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies. With more than 100 convenient locations, over 2,300 beds, nearly 15,000 team members, and affiliations with more than 2,700 of the area’s finest physicians, Meridian Health is a leading health care provider in New Jersey, providing quality health services, facilities, and programs. For more information, please visit www.MeridianHealth.com
About AllSpire Health Partners
AllSpire Health Partners is an alliance of seven healthcare systems (totaling 25 total hospitals) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Its members encompass systems including nationally-ranked hospitals that are listed in the Top Ten in their respective state and more than 20 specialties ranked in the Top 50 in the nation, according to US News and World Report. The participating systems include:
- Atlantic Health System (Morristown, NJ)
- Hackensack University Health Network (Hackensack, NJ)
- Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine (Lancaster, PA)
- Lehigh Valley Health Network (Allentown, PA)
- Meridian Health (Neptune, NJ)
- Reading Health System (Reading, PA)
- WellSpan Health (York, PA)