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Healthcare Decisions Day raises awareness of advance care planning

National Healthcare Decisions Day next Saturday is designed to inspire and educate the public and health care professionals about the importance of advance care planning, including completion of a health care proxy, a New York State Living Will and a Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or MOLST, form.

This year’s theme is, “It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late.”

“Individuals are encouraged to express and document their values, personal goals for care and wishes about end-of-life care,” said Dr. Patricia Bomba, vice president of geriatrics with Univera Healthcare and chair of the National Healthcare Decisions Day New York State Coalition.

A survey conducted by Univera showed that nearly nine of 10 upstate New Yorkers surveyed said it is important to have someone close to them making medical decisions on their behalf if they were to have an irreversible terminal condition and were unable to communicate or make decisions. Yet, only 42 percent had designated a health care proxy to ensure their wishes are carried out.

Free advance care planning tools are online at, a site that includes informational videos, family discussion tips, downloadable Health Care Proxy and MOLST forms, and a free planning booklet.

In advance of National Health Care Decisions Day, Hospice Buffalo, 225 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga, will host an open house from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. For more information, call 989-2072. Also, representatives from Parish Nurse Ministries of New York will share information during many church services in the region this weekend.

Niagara Hospice will host an Advance Care Planning program at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Niagara Hospice Administrative Building, 4675 Sunset Drive, Town of Lockport. As is the case with the Hospice Buffalo open house, this program is free and open to the public. Social worker Cheryl Ferguson will explain Health Care Proxies, Living Wills, Do Not Resuscitate and MOLST. Call 280-0742 by Monday to register. For more information about National Health Care Decision Day, visit