VERMILLION, S.D. -- Health workers across South Dakota are using National Healthcare Decisions Day on Saturday to draw awareness to the important but often overlooked decision process called advanced care planning (ACP).
The University of South Dakota Department of Nursing is leading the campaign that includes partners Sanford Health, Avera Health, Rapid City Regional Hospital and the Sioux Falls Veterans Administration Health Care System.
ACP encourages families and individuals to have conversations and make plans well before death imminently looms or happens. The process helps resolve the difficult decisions that often accompany life’s final days for a loved one.
“In our everyday lives we prepare for so much, but we often don’t prepare for sudden changes in health. This project encourages adults to have conversations with their loved ones and their health care providers in case of sudden health changes,” said Helene Hegge, instructor of nursing at USD and co-coordinator for the Advance Care Planning quality conversations project.
Cheryl Fischbach, nursing instructor at USD and another co-coordinator of the project, said the benefits of ACP are numerous. “In addition to the cost-effectiveness and financial benefits, there is increased patient and general population satisfaction, and increased satisfaction by health care providers,” she said.
Student volunteers are presenting a short survey and distributing information about Advance Care Planning in popular, public places like shopping malls, wellness centers and senior citizen centers this week.