The COVID-19 talk doctors say you should be having with your family now

Health Watch

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Doctors at Rochester Regional Health are asking people to start a difficult conversation with their family members. They want everyone to consider advance directives which are documents that outline a person’s end of life wishes.

Doctors say the harsh realities of COVID-19 are prompting this important recommendation. They say advance directives can help you make sure everything is in order in case you become sick.

“What has happened in our community now is that there’s been a change in the circumstances. This is a new disease that none of us are familiar with, this COVID-19, and so what we’ve been emphasizing to our patients at Rochester Regional is that we don’t want to tell you what to do. But we want you to have the conversation,” said Dr. Steven Rich, the lead physician for geriatric consultative services at Rochester Regional Health.

Doctors like Rich say that these conversations are difficult but necessary. Especially in light of the medical restrictions that come with caring for a patient with COVID-19.

“Many of the people that would help you with that guidance in the hospitals would be the family. and they’re not going to be as accessible to us as doctors. And to the patients for companionship,” said Rich.

Medical experts say it’s important to take some time to look at a couple important advance directive options. Consider naming a health care proxy, organize a living will, and fill out a MOLST form.

The three measures serve different purposes. The health care proxy can make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make decisions yourself. A living will details your wishes for end of life and life sustaining measures. A MOLST form, also known as a Medical Order for Life Sustaining Treatment form, supplements a living will and goes into more detail about the extent of care you would like to receive.

“So I think having this done before saves a lot of angst for the family because families are put into the situation of making a decision in a crisis,” said Rich.

Medical experts say these conversations serve a practical purpose. However difficult they may be, they say they help families and doctors better honor a patient’s wishes.

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