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"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6
April 2024
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Mercy Care, Hospice of the Valley, Contexture Collectively Launch Choose Your Person
By Alison Bailin - Monday Oct 16, 2023
Mercy Care, Hospice of the Valley and Contexture are collaborating on a community education campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of making and documenting advance healthcare decisions. This initiative, called Choose Your Person, encourages Arizonans to start the process by selecting a healthcare power of attorney.

National research shows that only 30-35 percent of Americans have created a living will, or advance healthcare directive. As a result, the end-of-life care they receive does not often reflect what they want. Consider that 70 percent of people say they would prefer to die at home, yet 76 percent pass away in an institution.

"Registering your advance healthcare directives can bring peace of mind and ensure you get the care you deserve. We want to increase the number of Arizonans who have recorded their advance healthcare directives to empower them to decide for themselves the kind of care they want before they need it. I encourage every Arizonan to Choose Your Person,” said Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, who spoke at the Choose Your Person launch event at Hospice of the Valley on Oct. 11.

Increasing the number of Arizonans with a registered healthcare directive will not only ensure more people get care that aligns with their wishes, but it will also provide valuable support to those making healthcare decisions on their behalf.

“Taking that first step and choosing ‘your person’ can be empowering and also prompt important, albeit difficult, conversations about end-of-life care with your loved ones and healthcare providers,” said Melissa Kotrys, CEO of Contexture. “Completing your advance healthcare directives and documenting them with the Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry can help provide you and your family peace of mind.”

Contexture operates the Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry (AzHDR), a platform that provides healthcare providers with seamless access to patients’ end-of-life care wishes. The registry stores advance directive documents, including living wills, healthcare power of attorney forms, and pre-hospital medical care directives, often referred to as Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNRs).

“We want Arizona residents to understand the value of this registry, and the value of a healthcare provider having access to your end-of-life wishes in real time, at the point of care,” said Lorry Bottrill, Mercy Care chief executive officer.

Mercy Care is providing $670,000 to launch the Choose Your Person community education campaign, which includes training as many as 50 community assistors and hosting community workshops on advance care planning where advance healthcare directives can be completed and registered in AzHDR. The community workshops will serve families of people living with dementia or other serious illness, with a focus on traditionally underserved communities who are less likely to have advance care planning conversations and complete their advance healthcare directives, such as Hispanic, Black, LGBTQIA+, and unhoused communities.

The funding is part of the Mercy C.A.R.E.S. Community Reinvestment grant program. It supports AHCCCS’ Whole Person Care Initiative, which addresses Social Risk Factors to improve health outcomes. Mercy C.A.R.E.S. provides community reinvestment funding to community organizations that address Mercy Care’s community health focus areas: managing chronic conditions, addressing housing security, supporting mental health and well-being and empowering recovery from substance use.

“Through Mercy C.A.R.E.S., we partner with organizations that advance health equity and further our mission that everyone, particularly those who are underserved and have complex health needs, deserves to live a healthier life, and achieve their full potential,” said Bottrill.

Hospice of the Valley and Contexture will lead community education efforts through their well-established community network of healthcare providers, long term care facilities, faith communities, community-based organizations, civic groups, colleges, and businesses.

“For more than 46 years, we’ve been educating the community on an array of healthcare topics, including advance care planning and the importance of documenting and communicating medical preferences,” said Debbie Shumway, executive director of Hospice of the Valley. “We encourage families to make these decisions together, to ensure their loved ones wishes are honored.” Some of these barriers can include a lack of knowledge, a lack of access to a notary or cultural taboos around discussions of incapacity or terminal illness.

About Mercy Care
Mercy Care is a not-for-profit Medicaid managed-care health plan, serving AHCCCS members in Arizona since 1985. Mercy Care is a local company sponsored by Dignity Health and Ascension Health. Mercy Care provides access to physical and behavioral health care services for Medicaid-eligible families, children, seniors, and individuals with developmental/cognitive disabilities. Learn more at http://www.MercyCareAZ.org.
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About Mercy C.A.R.E.S.
Mercy C.A.R.E.S., which stands for Community Action Resources Education and Service, is Mercy Care’s community giving initiative. Through grant funding, sponsorships, volunteer efforts and board participation, Mercy C.A.R.E.S. supports AHCCCS’ Whole Person Care Initiative, which addresses social risk factors to improve health outcomes.

An important part of this initiative is the Mercy C.A.R.E.S. Community Reinvestment grant program. It supports organizations that address Mercy Care’s key community health focus areas, which are centered on advancing health equity:? managing chronic conditions; supporting mental health and well-being; addressing housing security; and empowering recovery from substance use. Since 2016, the grant program has invested nearly $15 million in local nonprofit organizations.

About Contexture
Contexture is a nonprofit, regional organization that provides strategic, technical and administrative support to communities committed to advancing health through information sharing. As the umbrella organization of CORHIO, a health information exchange in Colorado, and Health Current, the Arizona health information exchange, Contexture is the largest health information organization in the Western region. Contexture means the manner of being woven or linked together to form a connected whole. Established in 2021, its mission is to advance individual and community health and wellness through the delivery of actionable information and analysis. -Learn more at contexture.org. Follow us on X and LinkedIn @ContextureHIT.

About the Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry
The Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry (AzHDR) is a repository authorized by state legislation that is a safe place to store and make accessible Arizonans’ advance directive documents so end-of-life care will be guided by their wishes. AzHDR is designed to help honor an individual’s end-of-life healthcare wishes by providing secure and seamless access to advance directives, documents that outline healthcare preferences, across the continuum of care. Registering advance directives with the AzHDR is free to Arizona residents and offers easy access to participating healthcare providers – ensuring wishes registered are wishes honored. The registry is operated by Contexture, Arizona’s statewide health information (HIE), per state designation. http://www.azhdr.org

About Hospice of the Valley
Since 1977, Hospice of the Valley has been committed to its mission of bringing comfort, dignity and compassionate care to our community. As Arizona’s leading hospice provider, and one of the largest not-for-profit hospices in the country, the agency serves families at every stage of illness: providing primary care for home-limited patients, palliative home care to manage acute and chronic illness, and pediatric home care for medically fragile children. An innovative Dementia Care and Education Campus supports families from the time of diagnosis on. Skilled hospice teams care for patients in the comfort of home or at one of nine inpatient units providing round-the-clock acute and respite care. After-hours triage nurses answer calls and provide support 24/7/365. Hospice of the Valley’s safety net of care extends to those without the ability to pay, serving all in need and offering a myriad of community services at no charge, such as grief support, senior placement and healthcare decision planning. Learn more at http://www.hov.org.