May 2020 by Donald W. Flaig, Esq.
The COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of all our minds. Much of the news and conversations are about how we can prevent the spread of the virus. While staying home, washing hands, and social distancing are key components to our safety, it is also important to be prepared for the possibility of serious illness that may lead to incapacity – both during this time and even when we have moved beyond this virus. While this is an exceedingly difficult topic that nobody wants to have, it is critical to have your medical wishes in place ahead of a crisis via an Advance Health Care Directive. In fact, a COVID-19 unit doctor was recently quoted as saying, “it’s the one vital step I wish everyone would take.”
What exactly is an Advance Health Care Directive? An Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document that specifies what actions should be taken for your health should you no longer be able to make those decisions for yourself. It also designates a proxy of your choice to be your “health care agent” to make decisions should you not be able to. When decisions are made ahead of time, it takes a lot of the burden and stress off your loved ones. It also can dramatically impact your quality of life and keep care consistent with your preferences.
There is often a misconception that an Advance Health Care Directive is only for the elderly. As we have all heard COVID-19 does not discriminate. It is affecting the young, the old, the otherwise healthy, as well as those with underlying health issues. All age groups are being admitted to hospitals, being put on ventilators, and unable to have conversations about health care preferences. Dr. Asha Shajahan, M.D. stated that “out of 55 patients in my COVID-19 unit only one had advance care planning.” This virus is a reminder to all of us the importance of having advance directives both now and when we have moved past this virus.
Our firm is here to answer any questions you may have and assist with the preparation of your Advance Health Care Directive among numerous other critically important documents for you and your family.