Hackensack University Health Network Participates in National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 15, 2016

Hackensack University Health Network (HackensackUHN) 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 one 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.

“Hackensack University Health Network is dedicated to providing the best possible care for all of our patients, and an important part of that effort is making sure our patients are educated about advance care planning,” said Robert C. Garrett, president and CEO of HackensackUHN.  “HackensackUHN is there for patients when it matters most, and our physicians have seen too many families walk through our doors without a plan in the most difficult circumstances.  The reason why our network is participating in the Your Life, Your Wishes campaign is because we want to make sure our patients are prepared for whatever may come their way, and this initiative will help give families the tools and resources they need to start this important conversation about health care goals and preferences today.”

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. A recent Rutgers-Eagleton on advance care planning shows that a majority of New Jersey residents are comfortable with getting older and have considered their end-of-life care, but six in 10 New Jerseyans have not written a living will.

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.

“The role of the physicians and staff at HackensackUMC is to provide excellent patient care.  The role of a patient’s family is to provide support to their loved one when they need it most.  It is heartbreaking to watch families who haven’t had the important conversation of advance care planning before it is too late,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, president of HackensackUMC.  “As a physician, I know how important it is for patients and their families to talk about advance care planning so that everyone can spend their remaining time together focusing on what matters most: being there for one another during a time of need.  It is our hope that Your Life, Your Wishes will empower more patients to start a conversation about their healthcare options today.”

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 HackensackUHN 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 Hackensack University Health Network
Hackensack University Health Network is the New Jersey-based parent company of HackensackUMC, the HackensackUMC Foundation, Hackensack University Medical Group, and corporate joint venture partners with LHP Hospital Group in ownership of two hospitals: HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley and HackensackUMC Mountainside. In April 2015, HackensackUHN welcomed Palisades Medical Center as a full member of the Network, marked by the execution of a definitive agreement. In May 2015, HackensackUHN signed a definitive agreement to merge with Meridian Health; creating one, integrated healthcare delivery system, known as Hackensack Meridian Health. In June 2015, HackensackUHN and Seton Hall University announced a definitive agreement to form a new, four-year school of medicine – the only private medical school in New Jersey. HackensackUHN also enjoys clinical and academic affiliations with some of the nation’s most well-renowned health systems, hospitals and universities, including: Aetna, AllSpire Health Partners, CityMD, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey; MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MinuteClinic, NYU Langone Medical Center’s Division of Pediatric Surgery, OMNIA Health Alliance; Rutgers Medical School, St. George’s University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Summit Medical Group, The Statesir Cancer Center at CentraState, and United Surgical Partners International. With more than 10,800 employees, 3,300 credentialed medical staff members and 1,717 hospital and nursing home beds at hospitals within the Network, Hackensack University Health Network is one of the largest healthcare systems in New Jersey.

About AllSpire Health Partners
AllSpire Health Partners is an alliance of seven hospital systems (totaling 25 hospitals) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Its members encompass systems including nationally-ranked hospitals that are listed in the Top Ten in their respective states 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)