Munson Health
Monday, April 15, 2013 - Advance Medical Directive -- Just Do It

Advance Medical Directive - Just Do IT
About 40 percent of Grand Traverse region residents have the document

An official proclamation from the City of Traverse City puts another exclamation point on April 16.

Munson Medical Center Advance Care Planning Coordinator Jane Dinnen, R.N., said the date marks the sixth National Healthcare Decisions Day and she appreciates Mayor Michael Estes signing a proclamation recognizing its importance.

“An advance medical directive, such as the Five Wishes document, lets you pick the person you trust to speak your wishes for medical care if you were ever unable to speak for yourself,” Dinnen said. “We’re challenging everyone to mark their calendars, assemble their relatives, and complete an advance directive, whether they are 18 or 80.”

In Michigan, an advance directive gives a person the right to name an “agent” to speak on one’s behalf, and to document the type of treatment one wants or does not want.

Dinnen estimates about 40 percent of area residents have a medical directive. Nationally, statistics show about 25 percent of the population with a directive.

“Healthy adults have a fairly straight-forward job to do. Just pick the person they trust to be their spokesperson,” she said. “Then they need to tell them what they would want if they suddenly and unexpectedly experienced an injury to their brain such that they no longer know who they are, where they are or who is coming to visit them.”

People living with a chronic illness rarely need to make the same decisions a healthy adult faces. In those cases, families often appreciate a sounding board for sorting through decisions they think might lie ahead.

Munson’s Advance Care Planning offers conversation starters as ways to guide the family discussion about such issues. Facilitators also are available to help individuals think through what they want to say in their health care directive.

For more information about Advance Care Planning or the Five Wishes Document, call (231) 935-7685 or email