Monday, January 15, 2007

New! PA HealthCare DecisionMaking Website

I announce the availability of a new website, PA HealthCare DecisionMaking. Click on the Open Compass to view it.

I hope that
PAHCDM will be a useful resource supporting surrogate health care & end-of-life decision-making in Pennsylvania under new Act 169, which will take effect on Monday, January 29, 2007.

With the urging & support of PBI Program Attorney Jennifer Chady Ellis, I constructed the website specifically for the call-in course
Personal Health Care Decision Making in Pennsylvania: An Analysis of Act 169, offered by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute on Tuesday, January 16, 2007, beginning at 12:30 PM and lasting until 2:10 PM. See: Act 169 Course: "In the Can" For a Crowd.

As it evolved, I determined to maintain the website thereafter in support of PBI's future distribution or online replay of the course's audio recording, and also as a resource for professionals & consumers about
Act 169.

In general, the website has
four aspects:

  • A complete, but unofficial, statement of the new Chapter 54, of Title 20 of the PA Probate, Estates & Fiduciaries Code, section by section, with internal cross-references;
  • Legal background information, including cases & statutes, regarding representative and end-of-life health care decision-making;
  • Extensive Pennsylvania legislative background material, developed since 1998, leading to the enactment of Act 169 in 2006; and
  • A "web portal", of sorts, that provides links to organizations, resources, articles, forms, and other information on the expansive, multi-disciplinary, aspects of personal health care decision-making.
While constructing the website, I developed two deep impressions.

First, I became humbled by the widespread, selfless efforts extended daily by others in addressing the challenges that arise from illness & death. I am particularly impressed by those who attend to the needs of the elderly & the disabled. Their efforts are channeled through so many groups with different approaches or roles -- medical treatment, rights advocacy, daily personal care, specialized housing, personal & estate planning, religious & spiritual guidance, financial planning, governmental regulation & funding, charitable studies & program development, hospice, and media reporting -- just to mention a few.

Their commitment to these missions -- although conducted very professionally on the surface -- really evidence, very simply, love & caring for others.

Second, I became overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges that we must anticipate addressing in the future. Consider:

  • The number of folks to be affected by aging issues;
  • the level of financial expenditures required to be incurred;
  • the complexity of the medical treatments that can prolong life or, if withdrawn, end it quickly;
  • the intricacy of basic legal rights to be resolved in individual cases; and
  • the importance of spiritual presence in the midst of these other considerations.
So, if you can access the PAHCDM website freely now, why would you register for the course?

For two basic reasons:

  1. The course will orient you quickly to the PAHCDM website and to Act 169, so you will be less "overwhelmed" with the material available, and so you can function better as a professional in addressing these issues yourself; and
  2. Just as Bob Wolf, Harriet Withstandly, Barbara Holland, & I each donated time to creation of the course to become a standing resource, you can contribute -- by your registration for the course -- to support the organization, PBI, that made it possible for you to learn in this manner.
I hope that you can participate in the course -- at the conference or during a replay -- and learn something from the new website. Think of it as "legal shareware". You can register for the course here.

UPDATE: 01/14/07:

I made this posting early on Sunday morning, January
14th, 2007, labeled for a date of Monday the 15th. Then I sent a copy to Professor Gerry Beyer for the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog.

He posted an announcement immediately. See:
Website Focusing on Pennsylvania Medical Decisions Goes On-line.

UPDATE: 01/16/07:

The call-in course was successful. 250 people attended by telephone link. Ten more people registered to hear it later. The staff at PBI is very pleased with the presentation.

PBI intends to make the course available online for computer replay, and subsequently to offer an audio CD package of the course. I'll update here when I learn status developments.

UPDATE: 01/17/07:

I just noticed a post by Stan Rule, of British Columbia, Canada on his Rule of Law blog, dated January 14, 2007, as follows:

Neil E. Hendershot, author of PA Elder, Estate & Fiduciary Law Blog, has created a new website entitled PA HealthCare DecisionMaking.

I write about it here because, although the focus of the website is -- not surprisingly given the title -- on Pennsylvania law and legislation, the website has links to all kinds of resources related to health care, elder law, end-of-life issues, and bereavement (to name just a few), which are relevant anywhere. These issues know no territorial boundaries. He has created links to related videos, and movies, as well as articles.

I would love to see someone do a similar website in B.C.