In the last few weeks we have all learned more than we want to know about COVID19. This virus is affecting young and old, healthy and frail, causing many to be hospitalized, with some gravely ill. We know critical patients everywhere are on ventilators. We are listening carefully, following the statistics, practicing social distancing, and staying home.
What we are not doing is discussing our individual desires about being on a ventilator. This is information the hospital will request if you are hospitalized with COVID19. A ventilator is a machine that delivers the breathing function through a tube down the throat of those who cannot take in enough oxygen on their own.
COVID19 patients who require a ventilator often need it within hours of their first symptoms. This can be shocking to a family, especially if the person is young and physically fit. Picture this: you drop a family member at the Emergency Room feeling quite ill, knowing they have very some alarmingly atypical appearances, and later you are called with a doctor’s determination that a ventilator is required. Because nowadays you cannot visit your loved one in the hospital, you may find it difficult to think they can decline that fast. Regarding COVID-19, statistics have shown that once on a ventilator the average time to stay on one is 8-12 days. Many senior adults having multiple medical issues may have a difficult time with recovery. The young and healthy have a somewhat better chance.
When considering treatment decisions for those COVID-19 infected, we should each have had prior discussions with our loved ones as to whether or not we wish to be ventilated, if it comes to that choice. Every person needs to have an answer, regardless of your age, and it is a person’s right NOT TO BE ventilated. Know that if you cannot breathe on your own, your recovery rate may be extremely low, so other options are not really available. But having the conversation about via what extreme you wish to be kept alive is a good discussion to have with your family, so that your choice can be registered with your doctor and with hospitals. The answer is a personal choice and should be made now when there is no urgency. Do not leave this decision for others to make when you cannot speak for yourself. Please help us provide the best care for you by having your decision made in advance.
If you have a Living Will does it address this question? If you have a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare does your representative know YOUR feelings about being put on a ventilator? Please prepare one of these documents, if not already done, and have them on file at Morris County Hospital.
If you need a Living Will or a DPOA for Healthcare they are available on our website at www.mrcohosp.com, (choose the patients and visitors tab, and then the patient forms option in the drop down box). If you need to talk about this or want to confirm we have a copy of your legal documents, please call me. We can get through this together. TerryAnna 620-767-6811 x152.