CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Few West Virginians want to die.
But those who are dying prefer to die at home, said Alvin Moss, director of the West Virginia Center for End of LIfe Care.
Moss is trying to increase awareness of his organization’s e-directive registry, which provides a place for people to make their end-of-life wishes known in advance in case they wind up unable to say what they desire.
“West Virginians will have their wishes known and respected at the end of life,” said Moss while he visited the state Capitol one day last week.
He said surveys shows that 92 percent of West Virginians want to die outside the hospital.
In truth, about 40 percent are dying in hospitals.
“Not quite where we want to be,” Moss said.
Those who use the e-directive registry, he said, are half as likely to die in the hospital. About 20 percent fit that category.
“The system is working extremely well,” Moss said. “They’re dying outside the hospital.”
For some terminally-ill patients, that means dying at home. For others, it means while under hospice care.
“It’s not magic,” Moss said. “For them to have documents in the registry, they need to have talked to a healthcare professional and put their wishes in writing.”
He continued, “When someone has an emergency at the end of life, medical professionals can check to see what orders there may be for patients who may be too sick to say for themselves.”
With the e-directive,medical professionals can access patients’ forms in a medical emergency to respect their wishes. Moss said 4,000 West Virginians with documents in the registry died last year.
The West Virginia Center for End of Life Care was established in 2002 by the state Legislature. It’s associated with the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at West Virginia University and receives $420,000 in funding from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Moss says end-of-life care for patients outside a hospital typically means lower medical costs for their families and for society.
“It’s a return on investment for the Legislature,” Moss said.
The end-of-life center works with officials from the Public Employees Insurance Agency to let state workers know about the e-directive and related options, he said.
“PEIA encourages its members to have living wills,” said Diane Holley-Brown, communications director for the state Department of Administration.
For more information, call 1-877-209- 8086 or visit www.wvendoflife.org.