If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that a health emergency can strike at any moment. But are we prepared?
As Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne teaches us in her TEDx talk “How to protect your body and your doctor’s soul during Covid-19,” laying out your goals of care and delegating who speaks for you if you cannot speak for yourself before an emergency strikes can drastically help hospitals and patients adequately manage high-risk patients, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One third of Medicare spending occurs in the last year of life, often on treatments done without the consultation of the person receiving the care. COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues, often barring family and caretakers from visiting their loved ones in their last moments, creating not only a crisis of the soul, but within hospitals as well, as providers are left without crucial information into a patient’s medical wishes. Despite these truths, less than 30 percent of Americans have an advance care plan outlining their wishes that is accessible to medical providers.
As Dr. Clayborne discusses, advance care planning platforms such as MyDirectives help doctors understand someone’s values and goals in emergencies where patients cannot speak for themselves. “I want to know what you want, where is your voice, and what are your values?” Dr. Clayborne says. She doesn’t just speak from the perspective of a healthcare provider – she knows this from the perspective of a patient too, having given birth to a daughter in the middle of the pandemic.
Amid the pandemic, especially as we face the prospect of a deadly second wave, it is critical that Americans understand the ways in which they can help protect themselves, their families, and the healthcare workers that serve them.