Richmond Academy of Medicine, three health systems begin program on end-of-life care
The Richmond Academy of Medicine (RAM) and three regional health systems have begun a program designed to help patients make plans for end-of-life care.
The program, Honoring Choices, will begin in January at Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.
Ken Faulkner, coordinator of VCU Health System Advance Care Planning and assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Professions, said the three competing health systems “did not hesitate and joined hands” in working on the project.
Honoring Choices is designed to begin a conversation with patients — and their families — about how they want to be cared for at the end of their lives.
Dr. Richard A. Szucs, chair of the RAM’s Core Group on Palliative and Hospice Care and the medical staff president at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond , notes that many families agonize over medical decisions for a loved one who, because of illness or severe injuries, cannot make their own care preferences known.
A survey of 600 Richmond-area residents by Southeastern Institute of Research on behalf of RAM found that 90 percent say they have discussed future health-care wishes with the families or loved ones, but only half have documented those wishes and only 35 percent have had in-depth conversations about the subject.
Honoring Choices follows Respecting Choices, a model developed by the Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis. That program makes discussion of future health-care preferences a part of routine health-care visits with patients of any age.
The patient’s preferences are committed to electronic medical records, which can be updated at the patient’s request.