Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
A Time to Act
National Health Decisions Day is April 16, and on Sunday, March 19, the Advance Care Planning Committee of Fort Worth and Tarrant County contributed to this effort with “A Time to Act.” Seventy people showed up early to Beth-El Congregation to talk about the subject that no one wants to talk about: planning for the future if we are confronted with serious illness or trauma.
Chaplain David Lowe from Baylor, Scott & White engaged and amused the crowd with his presentation focusing on the Advance Care Documents themselves, and why they are so important to complete. The big takeaway: Even if you have written documents, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a plan. Having a plan means talking to your loved ones face to face so that they understand exactly what your wishes are, and making sure that they could verbalize those wishes back to you.
Dr. Kendra Belfi, former president of the Coalition for Quality End of Life Care, helped define various life-sustaining treatments and their benefits and burdens, and dispelled some of the myths associated with those treatments. The takeaway here: Those treatments don’t always work as well as they do on television! And a representative from Lifegift, the organ donation center, gave us some staggering statistics about how many lives can be saved from one person’s donation alone.
The participants also viewed several videos from the Jewish Theological Seminary, featuring different rabbis framing those medical interventions through the lens of Jewish law. This was followed by a panel discussion with the guest speakers, as well as Rabbi Andrew Bloom from Congregation Ahavath Sholom, and Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of Beth-El Congregation. Everyone left armed with all the information and resources they needed in order to make informed decisions. And each received a Medical Power of Attorney form as well as a Living Will, to fill out after having these important conversations with their loved ones.
Their mission upon leaving: Complete these documents by National Health Care Decisions Day! The “A Time to Act” resource guide is available online at the Jewish Federation website (http://bit.ly/2o2ijbX), so don’t delay. Mark April 16 as the day to give one of the greatest gifts you can pass on to your family: peace of mind and a plan!
— Submitted by Cantor Sheri Allen