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Local healthcare professionals talk about death for better end-of-life treatment

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Cass Herrington
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WNIN News

Local physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and health care professionals – essentially, those whose job is to improve life -- are discussing ways to help ease patients into death.

Advance directives, or plans for end-of-life care, were the theme of the 25th annual Professional Ethics Seminar, hosted at St. Mary’s Hospital last week.

Medical ethicist Bud Hammes traveled from La Crosse, Wis. to present his institutional guidelines and policies called, Respecting Choices.

Hammes says although it seems like a weighty topic, the formalities start out as one-on-one discussions that often bring family members closer together.

"In the end, what the basic and ultimate message is, ‘we care about each other,’ and this is a particular form of that caring," Hammes said. "You know, ‘when you’re really sick, Mom, now I understand what you want us to do. And we’re going to do it because we care about you.’”

Respecting Choices encourages every patient to have an advance directive, which can be changed and adapted during a patient’s lifetime, Hammes told the conference attendees.

La Crosse, Wisconsin spends less on health care for patients at the end of life than any other place in the country, according to the Dartmouth Health Atlas.

And now, leaders from New Harmony are looking at ways to implement similar strategies. You can hear more about the topic during Friday’s Trend at noon central on WNIN-FM. 

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