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Advance Directives in the Spotlight as Valley Baptist-Harlingen Recognizes National Healthcare Decisions Day

Jul 13, 2018
HARLINGEN – Taxes shouldn’t be the only important paperwork local residents attend to in April, as Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen’s Pastoral Services staff want to encourage individuals to make time to plan for their future healthcare decisions throughout the rest of the month.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is actually observed on April 16th, but because of the importance advance directives play in the healthcare process, Joe Perez, Valley Baptist Health System Vice President of Mission & Ministry and his staff is utilizing the entire month to stress the need for individuals to develop and discuss their healthcare plans with family.

A conversation with loved ones on planning for serious illness and the dying process is an often uncomfortable, but necessary discussion families should have with one another, to ensure that patients receive the care they desire even when they cannot speak for themselves.

Advance healthcare directives are official documents outlining an individual’s wishes regarding their healthcare preferences should they be unable to make decisions for themselves because of illness or should they become incapacitated.

“Even though it is a difficult topic to address, it is a loving act to prepare and tell our families what our wishes are as they relate to serious illness and the dying process,” said Perez. “In the event something happens to me, I have already prepared my family and let them know exactly what my wishes are and I hope this helps to lessen the burden on them, in what would already be a very difficult time for them.” 

One advance directive is the Medical Power of Attorney — meaning the document that designates the ones who can make medical decisions for a patient when they cannot make those decisions themselves. The Living Will (or Directive to Physicians, Families and Surrogates) document places in writing the patient’s preferences for care when facing end of life and not able to make decisions for him/herself.  These — are important components of healthcare because they assist family members in making what could be difficult decisions for loved ones.

Valley Baptist-Harlingen offers a number of options for free assistance for those looking to complete their advance directive forms. Individuals seeking assistance regarding advance directive forms can call Pastoral Services at (956) 389-1194 in Harlingen or (956) 698-4060 in Brownsville, or email pastoralservices@valleybaptist.net and schedule an appointment during which they can receive assistance in completing the necessary paperwork. Appointments are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Pastoral Services team also provides education for churches and civic organizations.

“In keeping with Valley Baptist’s faith-based history, we are prepared to assist members of our community during a very difficult part of life for the good of our patients and their families, as well as for our own loved ones,” he said.  

Valley Baptist-Harlingen Chaplain Chris Hall has assisted many employees, patients, and local residents complete advance directive and Medical Power of Attorney forms. He said that outlining healthcare decisions before they are required can help family members deal with what can be emotionally trying experiences.

“There are times you can actually sense the relief that people express after completing these forms,” Hall said. “It can be a great gift to your friends and family – as well as to yourself.”

For more information on spiritual support services offered by Valley Baptist, visit our spiritual support page. 

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