Guest Blog Post: Discussing Care Choices on Advancing Illnesses

The following is a guest blog post from JoAnne Nowak MD who is Medical Director at Merrimack Valley Hospice. They are promoting a publication from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, titled “Know Your Choices:  A Guide for Patients with Serious Advancing Illness.” The guide is meant to help healthcare providers adhere to a new state regulation that requires they inform patients with advancing illnesses about their care options and choices. This publication, which Merrimack Valley Hospice has adapted this publication for their use, lists the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts as a resource and the Alliance encourages further promotion and distribution.

As a hospice and palliative care physician, I know that decisions about end of life care are deeply personal, and based on individual values and beliefs.  I’ve also seen first-hand how advance care planning can be an invaluable gift to those you love. Taking the time to talk with your family, close friends and your healthcare providers while you are in good health are all important steps in an advance care planning conversation.

In Massachusetts, a newly implemented regulation requires that all licensed hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities provide information about advance care planning, palliative care, hospice care, and other end of life care options to adults with serious illness.  The goal is to help patients start the conversation and make their end of life care wishes clearly known.

To help you begin, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently created “Know Your Choices:  A Guide for Patients with Serious Advancing Illness.” Merrimack Valley Hospice would like to make it easy for you to obtain this guide by making it available on our website because it contains important information about a variety of healthcare choices.  For your free copy, go to  You can also call 978-552-4186 to receive a copy by mail.

It’s time for all of us to start the conversation.

JoAnne Nowak MD
Medical Director, Merrimack Valley Hospice

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