Looking ahead: Local medical professionals discuss importance of having a care plan

Katrice Perkins/ Daily Mining Gazette Panelists Doreen Klingbeil (left), RN Mark Miron, Dr. Mary Beth Hines, and Terry Peterson listen during “Conversations for Today” discussion at Houghton High School on Wednesday.

Upper Penninsula Health Care Solutions, Aspirus Keweenaw, Upper Great Lakes Healthcare Center, Omega House and UPHS-Portage held a “Conversations for Today” discussion to showcase the advantages of advanced care planning at Houghton High School on Wednesday evening.

An advanced care plan is meant to help health care providers and families know what one would want in a health crisis.

Kate LaBeau, who was there on behalf of the Upper Peninsula Healthcare Solutions, led the discussion. She said the purpose was “to try and start having conversations in communities about things that are important to us and how we look for changes in healthcare.”

Along with LaBeau, the discussion featured panelists Terry Peterson, Dr. Mary Beth Hines, Doreen Klingbeil and RN Mark Miron. They gave personal stories and experiences. Some were about family members’ experiences in hospice care and the importance of those environments and advanced care plans.

“These same stories exist in each community but I think it’s important when it comes from your own community,” said LaBeau on inviting locals as panelists.

Niron, a nursing professor at Finlandia University, spoke about how healthcare is all about fixing, but some things can’t be fixed.

“When you talk about geriatrics, healthcare or mental health, there’s really no fixing,” said Niron.

He said the nursing has always been about being with the patient, which is something we all can do.

Dr. Hines discussed a success story of someone who had a plan, but the reality for most people is that they do not have advanced care plans, leaving vast amounts of chaos for themselves and their families or caregivers, who have to make decisions for them.

“It’s less than 20 percent when it goes well and it’s 80 percent when its just total chaos,” said Hines. “That’s what I’m hoping this conversation starts to change because it’s so destressing for the person who’s sick and for all us taking care of that person to see how all of these potential things go wrong.”

There was also a postcard activity for participants to choose one that speaks to them and one that would speak for a loved one. The purpose was to see the importance of having conversations and knowing what you and your loved one would want if unable to care for oneself.

“I’m hoping that people will start to have the conversation about what makes them happy, what makes them mad so other people can take care of them if their voice didn’t work,” said LaBeau.

Stan Vitton said he was glad he had come to discuss the very important topic and was able to hear people’s stories.

“You always learn something when other people share their experiences,” he said.