Just under half of the population of West Virginia has a living will or has assigned medical power or attorney to somebody. The percentage is higher than any other state when it comes to determining end of life care.
“When I talk to people, what they say in general is, ‘I want to live as long and as well as I can, but when I die I want to die gently,” said Dr. Alvin Moss, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center for End of Life Care. “It resonates with West Virginians.”
The Center for End of Life Care has been in operation for a decade and during its existence has worked with health care professionals at all levels to provide education and awareness about end of life decisions. Patients through the legal documents can lay out what their wishes will be if they are incapacitated and the decision is made they will not get better.
“The DNR card and the POST form are medical orders that really state what the patient’s wishes are,” said Moss. “The papers travel with the patient throughout the legal system.
Moss says they encourage doctors to ask the “surprise” question, would a doctor be surprised if a patient dies in the next year–if the answer is “no” they try to foster the conversation to have end of life decisions put into writing. He says it’s not just a decision for the elderly, everybody needs to take the time to go through the conversation with a trusted acquaintance .
“Anybody 18 and older can do a medical power of attorney naming somebody to make decisions for them if they become to six to make them for themselves,” he said.
Those interested in participating can call 1-877-209-8086 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information.
Forms are available at www.wvendoflife.org.