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River Falls Area Hospital hosts free advance care planning class

RIVER FALLS, Wis. 04/01/2015

National Health Care Decisions Day falls in April and every year, it gets people thinking about a subject that's sometimes considered taboo.

There may come a time in everyone's life when a person or a loved one is not able to communicate their health care wishes and it's a tough topic to talk—or even think—about.

Kathy Hogberg, social worker at River Falls Area Hospital, aims to address that with her free advance care planning class on April 16 (National Health Care Decisions Day), which will help participants to complete a health care directive to let family and medical providers know a person's goals and values for their future health care needs.

It is a topic close to the heart of David Miller, president of River Falls Area Hospital and a former emergency medical service (EMS) paramedic.

"80 percent of health care dollars are spent on 20 percent of the population. Much of that is spent in the last few months of a patient's life, when enormous sums can be spent prolonging a patient's life by a few days or weeks," said Miller.

"But what does dying with dignity really look like? When you are around someone who is dying with dignity, it can be very peaceful. Parents could make it a lot easier on their children if they have this discussion, and a health care directive document, before it is ever needed. We need to start to have these end-of-life discussions long before it is end of life, and long before we are dealing with a terminal disease."

In La Crosse, Wis., thanks to one man's mission, 96 percent of the people who die in the city have a health care directive. Last year, NPR ran a story on Bud Hammes, who single-handedly led the campaign to encourage nurses to talk with patients ahead of time to prepare a health care directive. Call 715-307-6145 to reserve a spot in the 6:30-7:45pm class at the River Falls Area Hospital on April 16.

About River Falls Area Hospital

River Falls Area Hospital, part of Allina Health, is a not-for-profit regional medical center committed to providing quality, comprehensive care to patients in western Wisconsin - from disease prevention to innovative diagnostic and treatment services for simple to complex medical conditions. The hospital provides a full range of inpatient, outpatient, cancer care and emergency care services.

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services

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