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Community Hospice Supports National Healthcare Decisions Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, in collaboration with national, state and community organizations, is encouraging Americans across the country to complete their advance healthcare directives -- an effort that has culminated in the formal designation of April 16, 2009 as National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Despite recent gains in public awareness of the need for advance care planning, studies indicate that most Americans have not exercised their right to make decisions about their healthcare in the event that they cannot speak for themselves. That's where National Healthcare Decisions Day plays an important role.

"Advance care planning is so much more than securing legal documents," said Susan Ponder-Stansel, President and CEO of Community Hospice. "Advance care planning is about thinking, preparing and communicating so that health decisions are made in a manner that a person desires. It is very important that those discussions take place before a health crisis occurs."

When advance care planning is correctly executed and properly communicated, a proxy will have the legal authority needed to oversee end-of-life care decisions that allows physicians to provide the best possible treatment consistent with an individual's wishes. Advance care planning also provides loved ones with the proper guidance they need when making difficult decisions about end-of-life care.

Community Hospice provides complimentary copies of the Five Wishes(R) living will to members of the community who live in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. This unique document not only addresses an individual's choice for a health care surrogate and the kind of medical treatment they want or don't want, but it also offers an opportunity to express personal, emotional and spiritual wishes and is written in language that is easy to understand. The document was created by Aging With Dignity, a nonprofit organization that works to promote better care for people at the end of life. To receive a copy of Five Wishes visit or by phone 904.407.7024.

Aging With Dignity has recognized Community Hospice as "National Innovator" for distributing more than half a million copies of Five Wishes, making it the documents' largest distributor in Florida and the largest provider of Five Wishes in a single state.

"Community Hospice has raised the bar in distribution of Five Wishes. Through their efforts and commitment to educating the public about the importance of advance directives many more people have taken the time to think about end-of-life care, shared their desires with their families and completed their Five Wishes living will," said Paul D. Malley, President of Aging With Dignity.

"As our population ages and medical technologies for life-sustaining procedures continue to develop, discussions about what kind of care we want at the end of life is even more important. National Healthcare Decisions Day is a good time to start the conversation with your loved ones about end-of-life issues because the best time to do that is when you are healthy," said Ponder-Stansel.

Established in 1979 as the first hospice program in Northeast Florida, Community Hospice of Northeast Florida(R) helps nearly 900 patients live better with advanced illness each day in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties, through the support of approximately 700 employees and 900 volunteers. The nonprofit organization has served more than 53,000 children and adults -- at home, in long term care facilities, hospitals and through four inpatient care centers throughout Jacksonville. Community Hospice Foundation(TM) generates philanthropic and community support for patient care services, family needs and community programs such as Community PedsCare(R), a pediatric palliative and hospice program. No one is ever denied care due to an inability to pay. To learn more about the support and services of Community Hospice, visit

SOURCE Community Hospice of Northeast Florida
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