‘Always Better’ Workshop to Look at Living Wills, Other ‘Advance Directives’

March 12, 2007

A free workshop exploring the topic of “advance directives” – living wills, health care proxies, and other types of instructions designed to be used in case serious injury or illness prevents a person from stating his or her wishes regarding health care clearly – is being offered 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 at the University of Rochester Medical Center as part of the University’s Always Better lecture series.

Timothy Quill, M.D., professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Humanities, and director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities, and Palliative Care, will present the workshop in the Medical Center’s Whipple Auditorium (Room 2-6424). Free parking will be available in the Kornberg Medical Research Building parking lot, adjacent to the entrance to the University’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, just off Elmwood Avenue.

For information or to register for the workshop, please call the University’s Office of Special Programs at (585) 275-2344, or visit www.rochester.edu/osp.

During the workshop, Quill will discuss highly visible cases such as that of Terri Schiavo, who died two years ago, and will offer guidance about the importance and challenge involving in letting one’s wishes be known. Participants will receive an advance care planning workbook to begin the process, and there will be plenty of time for questions.

Despite several highly publicized and tragic cases involving a person’s serious illness and the subsequent disagreement among family members over the patient’s wishes, less than one of every four Americans has completed a living will or a health care proxy. That means that for 75 percent of people, a serious illness could easily bring about a prolonged, bitter dispute among family members or a lengthy fight in the courts. The easiest way to avoid the heartache and the cost of such disputes is for patients to write down their wishes while they’re still healthy.

Quill is an internationally recognized expert on palliative care. Two years ago, his team received the American Health Assn. “Circle of Life” Citation of Honor, in recognition of its palliative care and end-of-life initiative. He has been a partner in helping patients and their families establish reliable plans in the face of severe illness, and he has also witnessed heartbreaking situations filled with uncertainty and bitterness.

The Always Better series is made possible through collaboration between the Medical Center and the University of Rochester Office of Special Programs. Over the past three years, the Rochester Continuing Studies and Always Better programs have offered a broad range of courses, seminars, medical workshops and events designed to enhance and enrich the lives of people in the Rochester area, helping them to live life Always Better. This unique approach to education, encouraging participants to learn what they love by giving them freedom and flexibility, is at the core of the Always Better program. Classes are non-credit and participants can expect little to no homework, no tests, and no grades, allowing them to explore an area of interest without pressure. Most classes are discussion based, encouraging participants with diverse life experiences and a strong desire to learn to share their views and opinions. For a complete listing of Always Better programs, please visit www.rochester.edu/osp.

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