VNA Health Group Helps Raise Awareness of Advance Care Planning

HOLMDEL, NJ – (April 11, 2022) Over the past couple years the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a keen awareness of our own mortality. It has provided food for thought raising such questions as:  How do I want to spend my final days? Do I want life-sustaining treatments?  Do I want to die at home? 

Regardless of your age or health status, now is the time to make sure you have clearly outlined your preferences for end-of-life care. Among the higher risk, frail elderly population, advance care planning is even more critical. 

VNA Health Group’s Palliative Care team and their home-based primary care practice, Visiting Physician Services (VPS), have been having advance care planning conversations with their patients for years as part of the comprehensive services they provide. Under the leadership of VNAHG Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marianne Holler, the goal of the palliative program is to provide support and guidance in making health care decisions and produce better outcomes for patients and families dealing with a serious or life-limiting illness. 

“Serious illness can have tremendous and far reaching effects upon patients and families, comments

Dr. Holler. A lack of information, combined with feelings of confusion, anxiety and doubt, can leave many families ill-equipped to determine the best course of action. A palliative consultation can provide help in making health care decisions for yourself or a loved one and improve the end-of-life experience.” VNAHG palliative consultations are not only provided in the community but also in long term care facilities as well as hospitals. 

Dr. Sara Leonard, Medical Director for VPS, says “End-of-life discussions have never been more important.  We treat elderly patients with multiple underlying chronic or serious illnesses who are most at risk for complications from the coronavirus and other viruses.  Understanding our patients’ wishes for end-of-life care helps us to keep their values and goals at the center of the care we provide for them.”

With National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD) approaching on April 16, VNAHG, through its palliative program and home-based primary care service, wants to increase awareness of the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. Advance care planning involves making future healthcare decisions, expressing preferences, clarifying values and appointing an agent to express healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated. Completing an Advance Directive is an important first step toward having your healthcare preferences honored (add link to NHDD website or Advance Directive form).

VNAHG will continue to educate the community and initiate those important advance care planning conversations so they can provide the much needed care to patients facing a serious or life-limiting illness. If you would like more information about VNAHG’s Palliative Care Program or Visiting Physician Services, please call 800-862-3330. 

About VNA Health Group

Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (VNAHG) is New Jersey’s largest nonprofit visiting nurse association and visiting physician service that helps individuals and families achieve their best level of health and well-being by providing home health, hospice, palliative, and community-based care, and operating private-pay personal care services. A full range of primary care services is available through VNACJ Community Health Centers. VNA Health Group employs more than 2,500 staff members and cares for more than 150,000 people each year. For more information about VNA Health Group, please visit vnahg.org. or call 800-862-3330.

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