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Suffolk Health Commissioner Tomarken Proclaims "Healthcare Decision Days"

Proclamation to Focus Attention on End-of-Life Care Planning Discussions.

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Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken presents “National Healthcare Decisions Days Proclamation” to Carolyn Kazdan and Dr. Patricia Bomba.

Photo by: MASE FX (Clifford Mason)

Lake Success, NY - April 21, 2017 - At this week's Suffolk County Board of Health meeting, Health Commissioner James L. Tomarken, MD, MPH, MBA, MSW, signed a proclamation declaring the week of April 16 “National Healthcare Decision Days” in the county, presenting the proclamation to end-of-life care expert Patricia Bomba, MD, MACP, VP of Geriatrics for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, and to Carolyn Kazdan, MHSA, NHA, Quality Improvement Specialist, IPRO.
Dr. Bomba is working with IPRO to educate the public and healthcare professionals about end-of-life care planning and New York’s Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) and eMOLST, which aim to improve the quality of care that people receive at the end of their lives by honoring their preferences, values and beliefs through a shared informed decision-making communication process with their families and healthcare professionals.  Ms. Kazdan is coordinating the end-of-life care planning project.
The 10th Annual National Healthcare Decisions Days (NHDD) are being observed with a number of educational events in Suffolk and Nassau Counties. National Healthcare Decisions Days were created to inspire, educate and empower the public and healthcare professionals about the importance of advance care planning.
“By signing this proclamation today, I hope to encourage conversation among Suffolk County residents, their families and healthcare providers about advance care planning,” said Dr. James Tomarken. “We want them to know there are tools available that will help them to begin the conversation and will enable them to make decisions that will be well-understood by their families and their healthcare providers.”
The proclamation states, in part: “As a result of activities during April 16-22, 2017, being recognized as National Healthcare Decisions Days in New York State, more citizens will have conversations about their healthcare decisions; more citizens will execute healthcare proxies to make their wishes known; seriously ill citizens will be aware of New York’s MOLST program and eMOLST; and fewer families and physicians will have to struggle with making difficult medical decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient.”
“Most people near the end of life lack the ability to make their own decisions about the treatment they wish to receive, as well as what they want to avoid,” says Dr. Bomba. “A majority of patients will receive their care after a hospitalization and long-term care from physicians who do not know them. Advance care planning is essential to ensure that patients receive care and treatment that reflects their values, beliefs and goals for care and treatment.”
As part of a two-year Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) funded initiative to transform end of life care in Nassau and Suffolk counties, IPRO is partnering with organizations in both counties to conduct outreach and provide educational sessions for seniors, their families and caregivers to help them better understand how to ensure that their end-of-life wishes are properly carried out.
“Since the start of our project in 2015, we have seen Long Islanders come together to develop a community-wide approach to advance care planning, and help Medicare beneficiaries receive high quality end-of-life care that is aligned with their values, beliefs and goals,” says Clare Bradley MD, MPH, IPRO Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.  “National Healthcare Decisions Days represent a way to bring awareness to this important initiative and we thank Commissioner Tomarken for his support.”