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Advance care planning continues to grow in Wisconsin

Release Date: October 23, 2014
Contact: Jennifer Wieman - 608.442.3765 jennifer.wieman@wismed.org

Annual conference spotlights Honoring Choices Wisconsin stakeholders’ successes

MADISON (Oct. 23, 2014) — Representing 22 health care organizations across the state, Honoring Choices Wisconsin (HCW) stakeholders gathered in Madison yesterday for the second annual Sharing the Experience Conference. The event not only showcased the two-year growth and reach of HCW—the Wisconsin Medical Society’s initiative to promote the benefits of and improve processes for advance care planning throughout the state—but also provided a platform for stakeholders to share their successes and offer help to address any challenges their peers may have encountered.

In addition, HCW announced six new participating organizations and unveiled its first video It’s About the Conversation, produced in collaboration with Wisconsin Public Television. The video is the first in a proposed series to prepare patients, physicians, health care teams and the public to have advance care planning conversations.

“After two years of training, planning, testing and expansion, we are now seeing concrete success in making advance care planning a routine and standard part of care in Wisconsin,” said John Maycroft, the Society’s director of policy development and initiatives. “It’s a tribute to the hard work of hundreds of people and the commitment of health care leaders across the state to advance care planning.”

Since Honoring Choices Wisconsin launched in September 2012, more than 3,000 patients have engaged in conversations about their future medical decisions, including end-of-life preferences, with facilitators trained through HCW. These conversations help patients understand their health care treatment options, appoint a health care agent, clarify goals, weigh options about the kind of care and treatment they would want or not want and communicate those wishes to family, friends, clergy, physicians and others.

Susan Kufahl has a connection to advance care planning that goes beyond being a facilitator. Kufahl, a facilitator for Fort HealthCare in Lake Mills, Wis., was a presenter at the conference and shared a personal story about her father Wilfred “Zeke” Zeirke and how advance care planning ensured that his choices were respected.

“The offer was made to transfer him to the in-patient hospice unit, but I said, ‘no,’ Dad wanted to die at home…Thanks to Honoring Choices and the conversations we had, Dad’s last days were done the way he wanted,” Kufahl said. “His voice was heard even though he wasn’t able to speak for himself, and having the conversations with him that I did, gave me comfort in knowing that we were doing things his way in his final days.”

Another speaker, Kitty Stueber, is a volunteer facilitator for UW Health Partners-Watertown Regional Medical Center and shared her own personal connection. The retired physical education teacher decided to help spread the word about advance care planning when her husband suffered a brain aneurysm.

“I feel validated as a human being,” Stueber said during the conference. “I love being able to give back and not only am I thanked and appreciated by the people that I work with, but certainly by the wonderful people I have met and worked with as far as facilitating.”

Through HCW, the Society serves as a convener, coordinator and catalyst to build clinical systems based on the Respecting Choices® First Steps® model, combined with outreach in communities across the state.

With more than 12,000 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Wisconsin Medical Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and has been a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841. For more information about Honoring Choices Wisconsin, visit www.honoringchoiceswi.org.

The name “Honoring Choices Wisconsin” is used under license from the East Metro Medical Society Foundation.