Staying in Charge

We believe in a patient's right to take an active part in medical decision-making with the guidance of physicians. We want you to ask questions, pursue clarification of any issues or concerns you may have during your stay in the hospital. Please refer to the SPEAK UP handout in your admission materials for information about how you can participate in your care and make your hospital stay the safest it can be.

Advance Directives
There may come a time when you are too ill to make your own medical decisions. Maine law allows you to tell others what you want by making an "advance directive", what some call a Living Will. By signing an advance directive, you can decide in advance, and let family and caregivers know, what course of treatment you prefer if you are ever too sick to tell them. Each inpatient admission packet contains detailed materials about your options for advanced decision making including a form you can use to make your wishes known. These forms are available for people receiving outpatient care as well.

If you do not put your wishes in writing in advance and you become unable to state what you prefer, doctors and nurses caring for you will give you every treatment available to keep you alive. If you are in a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state and have no written wishes, Maine law allows court-appointed guardians or family members to decide to stop life-sustaining treatment. This is a difficult decision for families to make. Your family will not be faced with making that decision if you have signed an advance directive. To learn more about advance directives, ask your nurse or call EMMC's Case Management Department at extension 37843.

Tissue and Organ Donation
Tissue and organ donation saves or enhances thousands of American lives each year and can, in some measure, ease the pain of losing a loved one. The decision to donate is best made by you well before it becomes necessary to choose. Make sure family members know your preference, as they would make the final decision in the event of your death.

Eastern Maine Medical Center can provide you with information regarding tissue and organ donation as well as a donor card. In addition, a representative of the New England Organ Bank is available at the medical center to speak to you or family members about this type of gift. For more information, please call the New England Organ Bank at 1-800-446-6362. If you would like to speak to someone in person, ask to have the EMMC representative paged.

Palliative Care
EMMC's Palliative Care Program is available to patients and families to provide comfort care when the patient's condition is incurable. Palliative care is a physician directed program, and embodies some of the same principles as hospice care, such as providing the best quality of life for both patients and families, but is not limited to end-of-life care. Palliative care seeks to prevent or relieve symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, or constipation in concert with any therapeutic care recommended by your doctor. EMMC's Palliative Care Program provides coordinated medical, nursing, case management, pharmaceutical and spiritual care services. If you would like a consultation before leaving the hospital, please speak with your nurse or call Palliative Care at extension 37470.

Hospice Services
Hospice of Eastern Maine is one of several local hospice programs available to serve patients and families dealing with terminal illness. Hospice staff and trained volunteers support patients and families in their choices pertaining to the course of treatment. During difficult times, home visits by hospice nurses, home health aides, and volunteers bring both physical and emotional comfort. Hospice also offers bereavement support for families dealing with loss. Hospice of Eastern Maine is a member of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems—a sibling organization of EMMC. Contact Hospice of Eastern Maine by calling 973-8269 or toll free at 1-800-350-8269.

Ask your nurse for additional information or a list of other organizations providing hospice care in your area.