Thinking for the future

Published 10:50 am Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Individuals and families in the Heart of Virginia will have an opportunity to find resources to make conservations about end of life care a little less daunting during an event in the Heart of Virginia that will observe National Healthcare Decisions Day, beginning April 16.

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) focuses on advance planning of care in the event of serious or sudden illness or death.

The national observance of the day “exists as a 50-state annual initiative to provide clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to both the public and providers/ facilities through the widespread availability and dissemination of simple, free, and uniform tools (not just forms) to guide the process,” the website for NHDD cited.

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NHDD was founded by Nathan Kottkamp, partner with law firm McGuireWoods, based in Richmond.

Kottkamp said Monday the inspiration for the day came after working with several ethic committees at hospitals and noticing reoccurring dilemmas with patients who did not have tools for end of life situations, including living wills or advance directive forms, which are written statements of medical care patients want to receive at the end of their lives.

“The goal of the event is really just to inspire people to understand why it’s so important regardless of their current age or their health status,” Kottkamp said, “and to talk with their loved ones about what their wishes are and put those discussions in writing. It should be intergenerational, so middle- aged children should be thinking not only about what their elderly parents might want, but also what do their adult children want in the event that they have a health crisis, and have they told each of those what their own wishes are? It’s not at all just an exercise for people who have a health issue. It’s for all of us.”

Regarding encouraging those to participate or seek information about end of life care, Kottkamp urged people to visit the NMDD website at

Centra Southside Community Hospital and Centra Southside Medical Center will have information tables with representatives available on April 16. The table at Centra Southside Medical Center, on 935 S. Main St., will be available between 9-11 a.m. For the hospital, the table will be available at the lobby from 1:30-4 p.m.

New Century Hospice in the Town of Farmville will hold a seminar, called “Conversations Before Crisis Workshop,” offering tools and activities to get individuals and their loved ones thinking about end of life care on Monday, April 16, from 4-5 p.m. at the Barbara Rose Johns Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library.

The Rev. Amanda Hayes-Bowman with New Century Hospice said the seminar encourages people, younger or older, to think and communicate the often difficult subject of what to do if they are sick or near the end of their lives beforehand.

Hayes-Bowman said the goal of the day and of the workshop is to “encourage people to talk with their families about what kind of healthcare they would want if they became unable to make their own decisions, to talk about whether they would want to be kept alive on a ventilator or what would be their preferences for end of life care before they are in that situation so that their family doesn’t have to wonder if they’re making the right choice or wonder what they would have wanted.”

Hayes-Bowman said during the event, participants will take part in activities that will allow people to consider their wishes, or would matter most to them in an end-of-life situation, tips for starting conversations with families about healthcare decisions and reviewing the Virginia Advance Directive form. She said the event is for all ages.

“People don’t want to talk about that stuff, or they think it’s depressing, or that they are going to upset people,” Hayes-Bowman said. “But it’s a lot easier to talk about it before you’re in that situation.” “I think it’s never too soon to start planning for that,” Hayes-Bowman said, noting that people who are young and healthy should also consider the form.

For more information about the workshop, contact New Century Hospice at (434) 395- 1042.