Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Medical Center’s Community Health Investment Fund has committed a third year of funding to "Who’s Your Person… What’s Your Plan?" an initiative designed to increase the use of advance medical directives among Vermonters living in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.
The "Who’s Your Person…What’s Your Plan?" initiative is a collaborative effort involving nine Vermont health care organizations, ranging from home-health providers, to affordable housing agencies, to organizations serving seniors. Goals are to encourage everyone 18 and older to consider their health care values and preferences, and to plan for future medical decisions at a time when they may be unable to speak for themselves, due to serious illness or catastrophic injury.
The initiative received $100,000 in 2016 and $45,000 in 2017. The continuation of the grant for a third year, with $20,000 in additional funding, will allow the collective to continue its community and business presentations, which have made a significant impact over the last two years.
Since the summer of 2016, the initiative has reached more than 700 people, 84% of whom were motivated to appoint a health care agent and/or complete an advance directive after attending a presentation. Vermont Advance Directive Registry data has also shown a 65% increase in submissions from residents of Chittenden and Grand Isle counties as compared to two years prior to when the initiative began.
The impact is being noted by health care providers as well. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of our patients with advance directives over the last two years,” said Sally Bliss, RN, MSB, interim director of Clinical Ethics at the University of Vermont Medical Center, an initiative partner and major grant funder.
“As medical treatment continues to advance, health care providers have more with which to address a wide range of conditions that, just a few years ago, might have been untreatable,” she continued. “But just because we can provide treatment, doesn’t always mean we should. Those decisions, however, have to come from the patient, not from the provider, and this is why advance directives are so important.”
“Facing our own mortality is definitely not an easy thing,” said Sarah Brown, project manager for Who’s Your Person…What’s Your Plan?. “One of the broader goals of this initiative is to normalize these conversations and provide families some guidance in thinking and talking about a difficult subject.”
In addition to supporting continued outreach, the latest grant will also allow the collective to enter a new phase of the project: working with health care providers on what they call “systems readiness.”
According to Brown: “Now that more Vermonters understand the importance of advance medical planning, we need to make sure that all healthcare providers in our region – and the information systems they use to store and share patient information – are fully prepared to act on it.”
“All of that consideration and planning ends up being for naught if providers across the continuum of care aren’t able to access the information quickly and easily when that patient presents for treatment, particularly in an emergency situation. It’s about closing the loop.”
Partner organizations for the initiative are: Age Well, BAYADA, Cathedral Square, Howard Center, OneCare Vermont, Support and Services at Home (SASH), The University of Vermont Medical Center, Vermont Ethics Network, and the VNA of Chittenden & Grand Isle Counties.
Source: Burlington, VT, May 15, 2018 – The University of Vermont