Healthcare Decisions Day helps students


It is never too early to start thinking about healthcare.

The Second Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day, which was held on April 11 in the lobby of Eder Hall, focused on informing students of their options with living wills.

The nursing department worked with the philosophy department on campus to host this event. James Okapal, assistant professor of the department of history, philosophy and geography explained the purpose of NHDD.

“It is to make people aware of the information about making a decision on healthcare,” Okapal said.

People may or may not be aware of the choices they have and that is why Heartland Regional Medical Center has decided to spread the news.

Stephen Morris, assistant professor of the department of history, philosophy and geography, provided some input.

“We hope to educate people about the options that the living will and Advance Directive gives,” Morris said.

According to, having a living will was associated with lower probability of dying in a hospital for nursing home residents and people living in the community.

Physicians should discuss patients’ preferences for locations of death during advance care planning, the Web site explained. More Americans are discussing and planning end-of-life treatment.

“Forty-two percent of Americans have had a friend or relative suffer from a terminal illness or coma in the last five years and for a majority of these people and 23 percent of the general public, the issue of withholding life sustaining treatment came up,” the Web site stated.

Okapal and Morris have an interest in medical ethics, and are also on the ethics board at Heartland.

“As part of our work with them, one of the things that board is interested in is promoting National Healthcare Decisions Day,” Okapal said. “Myself, Dr. Corder and Dr. Morris decided we wanted to do something on campus.”

The information that was provided at the booth was on Advance Directives and Treatment Plans. The Advance Directive is formal legal paper work, durable power of attorney and identifying a decision maker.

The Treatment Plan is a living will; it tells the doctors who is allowed to make the more important decisions if a person was to become unconscious or unable to make decisions on their own.

Those present at the event stressed that people should not wait until the last moment because they might not have another moment to spare.

When a student first becomes an adult, they should take the time to learn and create the best healthcare available to them.

Okapal hopes to encourage people to discuss their ideas about being treated medically.

“Apart of this is that we don’t talk about Living Wills anymore, and it’s actually a complicated process,” Okapal said. Decisions like this should be made before something happens and all of the issues on do not resuscitate and who has the power of attorney comes up.

This event is not just happening at Missouri Western, but all across the United States as well. Missouri Western is just one of many places hosting a booth.
Student Tomi Standage thinks it is good to be prepared for the worst.

“I have never thought about what would happen,” Standage said. “I just thought my mom could take care of whatever I needed if I was hurt.”

She did not realize that if she did not have the right documents filled out, her mom would not be able to help out in the time of need.

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