The Pastoral Care Department can help you plan and prepare your advance directives for medical care. Advance medical directives are legal documents that express your choices about your future care (a Living Will) or name someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
It is up to you to decide if you should have both a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Through a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, your agent can make all your health care decisions, including those that would be covered by a Living Will. However, if you know you want life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn when you are in a terminal condition, you may also want to sign a Living Will since it provides direction to your physician and you will not have to rely on an agent to communicate those wishes.
Once you have made the decision to execute advance directives, you will want to complete the legally binding forms. Free copies are available from the Iowa State Bar Association (ISBA). You may download forms from their website at www.iowabar.org. On the home page— click on Information then Legal Forms and finally Living Will. You can also write them at Iowa Bar Association, PO Box 4906, Des Moines, IA 50306.
Our chaplains are available to explain the process, answer your questions, properly notarize your signature and make sure that a copy of your advance directives is placed in your chart.
For more information, please call 515-247-3238.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document through which you name another person known as your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. This agent is required to make decisions according to directions you provide; if your wishes are not known, your agent shall make decisions in your best interest.
Like a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care applies only when you are unable to make decisions regarding your health care. However, while a Living Will applies only if you are terminally ill and it is your intention to have self-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you name an agent to make health care decisions in accordance with your wishes and its application is not limited to terminally ill patients or to decisions about life-sustaining procedures.
The person you name in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care should be someone you trust and who has consented to act as your agent. The law does not permit your agent to be your physician, nurse or other person providing health care to you on the date you sign the document, or any employee of your physician, nurse or any hospital or health care facility providing care to you on the date you sign the document, unless that employee is one of your close relatives. It is advisable to name an alternate agent in case the person you appoint becomes unable or unwilling to act on your behalf.
Your agent can make any decision about your health care regarding treatment of your physical or mental condition, including decisions about whether to withhold or withdraw a feeding tube or intravenous feeding. In all cases, your agent must make decisions in accordance with your wishes. Therefore, it is important to discuss your wishes with the person you will name as your agent. You may also state your wishes on the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care document and limit the scope of your agent’s authority. If your agent does not know your wishes, he or she has a duty to act in your best interest.