What is your past experience in healthcare? (i.e. experience as a Nurse in the Cancer unit at SC Hosp., etc.)

I was a staff nurse on the cancer unit of St. Cloud Hospital from 1989-2017 and am now retired. When I was a cancer nurse, I often cared for cancer patients who had not written out a Healthcare Directive and were unable to speak for themselves. In these situations, if they hadn’t talked previously to their loved ones about their wishes at the end of life, their loved ones usually chose to have aggressive treatments done for them. I often wondered if these cancer patients really wanted all the aggressive treatments we were giving them.

You’ve trained as an Advance Care Planning Facilitator and volunteer with Light the Legacy at Whitney Senior Center – tell me about that.

In order to help persons who come to Whitney Center to fill out their Healthcare Directives, I received Advance Care Planning training from Light The Legacy. I have found it very rewarding to help people write down their wishes as they fill out their Healthcare Directives.

Why do you think Advance Care Planning and filling out your HCD is so important – especially in the days we currently live in with covid.

Filling out a Healthcare Directive and sharing your wishes about treatments you would or would not want in situations where you have a serious illness is important to you and your loved ones. It helps you to get the treatments you want and not receive the treatments you do not want. It helps to take the burden from your loved ones of having to try to guess what you might want or not want and not feel guilty if they have not asked for everything that could possibly be done.

What kind of response have you heard from those who have come to Whitney, either virtually or in person?

The people that I help at the Whitney Center often thank me for the help I have given them with filling out their Healthcare Directive. Sometimes they are fearful of filling out their Healthcare Directive without assistance because they think they might make a mistake when they are filling it out, in terms of the healthcare agent they choose, or not expressing themselves as clearly as they want to about the treatments they want or don’t want. Sometimes they ask for clarification about what a certain treatment entails.

What else might you want to add or tell others who haven’t started or finished their Health Care Directive?

I would encourage all adults to fill out a Healthcare Directive. You never know when you might be involved in a serious accident or have a serious illness where you can’t express your wishes about what treatments you want or don’t want. You are doing your loved ones a great favor by speaking to them about who you want to be your healthcare agent when you can’t speak for yourself and about your wishes concerning healthcare treatments and then writing these wishes into a Healthcare Directive. These conversations with your loved ones are not always easy, but are well worth it. Writing your Healthcare Directive is also of great benefit to your healthcare providers in helping them to give you the best and most appropriate healthcare.

Roland Brummer