Healthcare experts recommend documenting advance directives long before hospitalizations

Hospital generic
Posted at 6:19 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 18:51:42-04

The coronavirus outbreak has made everyone realize how quickly health can deteriorate.

That’s why medical experts recommend thinking about, documenting, and discussing your advance directive wishes with loved ones long before you need to go to a hospital.

Jaqueline Hardges knows she’s one of the lucky COVID survivors after she recovered from a mild case at home.

Jaquenline Hardges recovered from COVID19 at home after not feeling well early in the outbreak.

Long before she got sick, Hardges started thinking about how she wanted to be cared for at the end of her life and she tried to talk to her family about it.

“They didn’t really want to have a whole lot of conversation,” said Hardges. “They were like, ‘What are you, why are we talking about this?”

End of Life decisions, or advance directives, are morbid to think about but University Hospitals Social Work Supervisor Sandy Babic helps patients work through those decision at UH.

University Hospital.jpeg
Babic says everyone should think about what they want their advance directives to be long before they are sick.

She says right now, those are important conversations to have.

“Clearly, people get sick and their condition can change very quickly with this virus and so I think people have thought about it,” said Babic. “What would I really want?”

Babic says that means deciding how you want to balance quality of life with how long you live.

It’s also important to pick someone to speak for you and make decisions when you can’t.

“It should be someone you have asked so they’re in agreement with taking on this role because it’s kind of a weighty job and you should make sure they speak with your voice,” said Babic.

The Cleveland Clinic tells News 5 it’s given COVID patients an app where they can be guided through the process of documenting advance directives at home.

Cleveland Clinic
A Cleveland Clinic App for COVID patients allows them to handle their advance directives paperwork from home.

“We are going to use these platforms now for other chronic diseases because it was very successful, but for now it’s for COVID patients only,” said End of Life Center Medical Director Dr. Sylvia Perez-Protto.

She says that step coupled with conversations when other patients come to the Cleveland Clinic has drastically increased the number of people who now have their paperwork in order.

“I expect to have more people with documents or who have thought about all these issues because of the challenges and what we are seeing happening in the world,” said Dr. Perez-Protto.

If you want to get your advance directives in order:

  • Talk to loved ones about how you want to be cared for at the end of your life
  • Find a friend or family member that is comfortable making medical decisions for you and will carry out what you want
  • Revisit those decisions over time

If you want any help having those conversations follow these links:

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.