Advance directives are legal documents that allow patients to convey personal decisions about care ahead of time. They provide a means to communicate wishes to family, friends and health care professionals to avoid confusion in the future.
A living will dictates patient wishes relative to care intended to sustain life. Patients can accept or refuse medical care. There are many issues to address, including:
- The use of dialysis and breathing machines
- Whether or not a patient wants to be resuscitated if breathing or heartbeat stops
- Nutrition and hydration preferences
- Organ or tissue donation
A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names a health care proxy. Your proxy is an individual empowered to make health decisions if you are unable to do so.
If you live in the state of Idaho, you can download the living will/durable power of attorney for health care form and to learn more about the state’s health care directive registry.
The Kootenai Health Chaplains are an integral part of the hospital’s care team, and are available seven days a week to provide spiritual and emotional presence and support that honors individual values, beliefs and practices. Chaplains are available for prayer, spiritual counseling, and facilitation of spiritual practice; as well as to assist with ethical and end of life decision-making, care level discussions, advance directives, and grief support. They are also happy to help patients and families connect with their own spiritual leaders. Kootenai Health Chaplains are available to serve patients and families.
Chaplains can be contacted during the day at 625-4792, and by e-mail any time at KH-ChaplainServices@kh.org. Chaplain consults can also be entered by nursing staff or via GetWellNetwork.
Additionally, Kootenai Health’s chapel is always open for reflection. It is located next to the Kootenai Health gift shop.
How to register as an organ donor
To ensure your wishes are carried out, register online and talk to your family.
Becoming a registered organ donor is simple, and it could save a life. It only takes two steps.
- Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor on your state’s donor registry. You can start the process at www.organdonor.gov.
- Discuss your wishes with your family. When a registered organ donor dies, doctors need permission to proceed from the next of kin. Letting your family members know about your decision to be an organ donor can help make sure your wishes are carried out.
It’s also helpful to do the following:
- Indicate your decision on your driver’s license.
- Tell your physician, faith leader and friends about your decision.
- Include your donation wishes in your advance directives, will, and living will.