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Press Release: Honoring Choices PNW Partnering with Gundersen Health

For Immediate Release

 July 31, 2015                                                                                                                                

Contacts: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross at MaryKayCR@wsha.org    Graham Short at gfs@wsma.org

Washington physicians and hospitals support advance care planning for public and medical community

Honoring Choices® Pacific Northwest is implementing a program to honor health care wishes in the last chapters of life.

SEATTLE – Honoring Choices® Pacific Northwest, a collaborative initiative between physicians and hospitals, has partnered with national leader Gundersen Health to bring evidence-based advance care planning training directly to physicians, hospitals and communities to ensure they are prepared to discuss and honor patients’ wishes.

We plan for major life events such as college, marriage, and having children—yet when it comes to planning the last chapters of our life, people often do not discuss what kind of health care they want during this significant time. With this in mind, the Washington State Hospital Association and Washington State Medical Association created Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest with the vision that:

Everyone in Washington will receive care that honors personal values in the last chapters of life.

“Doctors and hospitals across Washington have come together with partners across the state—and now nationally—to promote conversations so that people in our region will receive care that meets their personal goals,” said Joanne Roberts, MD, chair of the Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest workgroup and chief medical officer at Providence Health & Services Northwest Washington Region. “Every person—and every family, as defined by that person—has personal values that should drive their care. We aim to deliver care that fits those values.”

Adds Dr. Roberts, “Our purpose is to change the way that we die in Washington.”

Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest was launched in January by WSHA and WSMA with a website, www.HonoringChoicesPNW.org, designed to support both the public as well as care providers.

The partnership with Gundersen will bring evidence-based advance care planning training directly to physicians, hospitals and communities to ensure they are prepared to discuss and honor patients’ wishes.

“There is a tremendous need for people to have early conversations with their families and physicians about the type of care they would want if faced with a life-threatening illness. Research shows about 60 percent of people don’t want to burden family with tough decisions, yet nearly as many haven’t discussed their end-of-life care wishes,” said Brian Seppi, MD, president of the WSMA. “Recognizing this need, WSMA and WSHA brought together advance care planning efforts across the state and country to create a regional strategic plan to further increase awareness, knowledge and resources for patients and health care professionals.”

“It’s very natural that people think they can postpone these conversations until they’re actually faced with a serious illness,” said Carol Wagner, WSHA Senior Vice President for Patient Safety. “But the goal is to help people start making decisions when they’re healthy. That way, your whole family and care team will always know what you want. If you really want to save your family from future stress and uncertainty, start talking now. And keep talking!”

Under the new partnership, Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest will implement Gundersen’s widely-acclaimed Respecting Choices® advance care planning curriculum used in more than 120 medical systems across the country to design a training program for use in health care organizations around the region. Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest will introduce the program within a number of health care organizations in Washington in the next few months, and intends the training to spread to multiple organizations and communities over the next several years.

”Together, the work on advance care planning and our website for the public and health care providers will help make our vision of understanding and honoring choices a reality,” Wagner added.

Learn more about the Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest program at www.HonoringChoicesPNW.org.

About the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA)

The Washington State Hospital Association is a membership organization representing   community hospitals and several health-related organizations. The association provides issues management and analysis, information, advocacy and other services. In 2005, WSHA launched the Patient Safety program to help hospitals improve patient safety by supporting the adoption of evidence-based protocols that have been proven to save lives. WSHA works to improve the health of the people of the state by becoming involved in all matters affecting the delivery, quality, accessibility, affordability and continuity of health care. http://www.wsha.org

About the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA)

The Washington State Medical Association is a professional organization that represents physicians, physician assistants, residents, fellows and medical students throughout the state.

WSMA delivers strong leadership and advocacy that is patient-focused and physician-driven, helping physicians deliver care patients can trust – regardless of practice setting or specialty. The association is a strong and effective advocate for physicians and patients, serving as a unifying, proactive force to improve the practice of medicine and patient care in Washington. http://www.wsma.org

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