End-of-life documentary screened

Published 10:25 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

When it comes to the end of your life, what kind of medical interventions do you want?

It’s a question many people will face, either for themselves or a family member, but painfully few people think about it before it’s necessary, said David Murray, executive director of Advance Care Planning Coalition of Eastern Virginia.

“The hospital isn’t the right time to think this through,” Murray said.

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As You Wish Advance Care Planning, a collaborative initiative between several regional health care facilities, will host a documentary detailing the importance of advance directives at various locations in the area.

Several screenings are planned of the PBS Frontline documentary, “Being Mortal,” based on the best-selling book by Dr. Atul Gawande.

“It’s a good introduction to a discussion of how important this is,” Murray said.

Since 2014, As You Wish collaborators Bon Secours Hampton Roads, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, Riverside Health System, Sentara Health Care and several others have worked together on various community programs. The documentary program is in partnership with the Hospice Foundation of America.

“This is a very difficult subject so we thought, ‘Why don’t we just explain it together?’” Murray said.

The film highlights how the current medical system typically doesn’t discuss advance directives. These documents, often including a living will, ensure a person’s wishes are executed should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor.

Advance directives have been around for several years, but very few are aware of them, according to Murray.

Murray added less than 20 percent of Suffolk’s population has an advance directive.

Most people know an advance directive “is an important document, but they haven’t had the time to learn,” Murray said.

At the conclusion of the screenings, attendees participate in a dialogue with health care professionals about advance directives and their preferences.

“Everyone has said it is a worthwhile documentary to see,” Murray said. “Most come out of the program and say ‘I had no idea.’”

The Suffolk screenings of the documentary will take place at the Department of Social Services, 135 Hall Ave., on Oct. 5 and at the Sentara BelleHarbour campus on Oct. 21.

A screening in Franklin will be held at the Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center.

All screenings will be from 10 a.m. to noon.

Advance registration is required and can be made at www.asyouwishvirginia.org/events or by calling 325-9400.