National Public Health Week – Do You Have A Health Care Directive?

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As you learned last week in our Member Profile series, Tamarae Cooney is one of our original Farmgirlfit members.  She is also a recently licensed attorney practicing with the local firm, Cooney Law Offices, P.S., with an emphasis in Wills, Estate Planning, and Probates.  When she came to us with a proposal to provide a complimentary (FREE) service for our members in honor of National Public Health Week (April 7-13th 2014), we jumped at the opportunity.  Afterall, true health encompasses so much more than just being physically fit.

Enter Tamarae…

I’ve said it before; my favorite thing about Farmgirlfit is, without a doubt, the members and community.  It’s a pretty incredible band of women that have assembled under those purple beams.  Despite very diverse backgrounds (fitness and otherwise), influences and interests, we all encourage each other, and genuinely enjoy our time together.

I’d been thinking a lot about this sense of community, and how I’ve really never experienced anything like it.  I wanted to find a way to extend it to other areas of my life, and also to offer a small thank you to my fellow members who constantly provide me with so much motivation and inspiration.  While doing some research at work, I came across an article about National Public Health Week.  For whatever reason, it caught my attention and the wheels started turning.

When we consider our overall approach to health, it’s important not only to be proactive now with diet and exercise, but also to plan for the future, including those unfortunate and potentially tragic “what-if” scenarios.  To that end, I have offered to prepare a Health Care Directive to all Farmgirlfit members and their spouses or domestic partners who are Washington residents, free of charge (ordinarily $75 per person).  I am only licensed in Washington so cannot extend the offer to residents of other states.

What is a Health Care Directive, and Why Do I Need One?

Sometimes called a “Living Will” or “Advance Directive”, a Health Care Directive is a legal document in which you make a decision regarding the use of certain life-sustaining medical treatment.  Ordinarily, we each have the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment.  However, when in a coma and unable to communicate, hospital policies, family disagreements, or other circumstances may put and/or keep you on life-support against what your wishes would have been.

Under Washington’s Natural Death Act, a properly drafted and executed Health Care Directive serves to communicate your direction regarding the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, AND carries with it the same effect that a verbal direction by you would have had.  RCW 70.122.030, RCW 70.122.060.  In other words, your Health Care Directive that indicates you do not want to be placed on life-support, is just as good as you personally stating, “I am refusing life-support.”

With the foregoing in mind, it’s important to understand that a Health Care Directive only pertains to artificial, life-sustaining treatment. This means that you are making an election to withhold or withdraw treatment only in the event you are in a terminal or permanent unconscious condition, and have no reasonable probability of recovery; or will recover, but remain in a persistent vegetative state.  A Health Care Directive is not the same as a “do not resuscitate form”, a “green card”, or a Health Care Power of Attorney.

As a female, it is also important to keep in mind that your Health Care Directive carries no effect during the term of any pregnancy, so long as your physician is aware of your pregnancy.

Planning for your own potential incapacity and making a decision regarding life-sustaining treatment is not the most enjoyable of tasks, but it is extremely important.  Take the time to execute a Health Care Directive so that you (and your family) don’t end up in a Terri Schiavo scenario.

The Details:

Tamarae will be on-site at Farmgirlfit on Tuesday April 8th from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, and on Wednesday the 9th from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.  If you are interested in a Health Care Directive, please stop by during one of those times.  If at all possible, please sign-up in advance (just your name).  We have a sign-up sheet in the gym.  This will allow Tamarae to prepare the document in advance so all you have to do is sign and take it home!

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