GOCCNJ Offers Help on How to Discuss, Decide & Document Your Wishes for Medical Care

Apr 2020

Princeton, NJ. March 26, 2020. We are living in an unprecedented time as we adjust to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape created by COVID-19. Hospitals and healthcare professionals are trying to manage the demands created by the influx of affected patients and reported shortages of hospital beds and ventilators. Nursing home populations and older adults, often with underlying chronic medical conditions, are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19. Many will get sick, some critically, and many will die. The Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey (GOCCNJ) is offering to help by educating those high-risk populations and their family medical decision-makers about the importance of discussing and documenting their wishes for medical care.

Beginning on Monday, 3/30 and continuing through 4/24, David Barile, MD, Palliative & Geriatric Physician, Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center and Founder and Chief Medical Officer, GOCCNJ and Stephen Goldfine, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice and member of GOCCNJ, will lead a daily 30-minute Zoom webinar at 1:00 PM EST for the elderly, nursing home residents, their loved ones, and their authorized healthcare proxies to discuss advance directives and medical orders such as POLST (Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). Visit www.goalsofcare.org to register for the webinar and access free tools and resources about COVID-19 and the advance care planning process. After registering, a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar via computer or phone will be sent.

According to Dr. Barile, “In the context of dealing with COVID-19, the usual concerns of palliative care—quality of life, understanding patient’s goals of care and what matters most to them if they get very sick, have never been more important. That is why GOCCNJ is launching a focused effort to ensure that high-risk patients, such as those residing in nursing homes for whom it’s appropriate, have a completed POLST form.”

All adults should have an advance directive to identify a surrogate decision-maker and provide information about treatments they may or may not want to receive in an emergency. A POLST form is used when you become seriously ill or are a frail elder and gives medical orders to emergency personnel. “We are strongly encouraging family decision-makers and authorized healthcare proxies to speak to their loved ones, when possible, to make decisions about future medical care and to put them in writing,” says Dr. Barile.