ADvance DirectivesPastoral Care

Our ethics committee provides guidance and support for important healthcare decisions

Making final choices about treatment options for ourselves and our loved ones is one of the most important and emotional health care decisions a person or a family can face. At Adirondack Health, our experienced medical services staff, our physicians and our specially trained ethics councilors are there to offer a helping hand.

To make an informed decision, patients, residents, or their surrogates need to know as much as possible about their diagnosis and their prognosis in order to weigh and benefits, risks and alternative treatment options. The ethics committee of Adirondack Health offers consultations on request for patients, residents, family members, and health caregivers, for the purpose of providing guidance and support when ethical or moral dilemmas arise in the course of care.

In some instances a patient or resident may lack capacity to make a medical decision. A surrogate decision maker named in a pre-planned health care proxy or through a living will allows them the legal right to act on the patient's behalf.

The ethics committee does not make decisions for patients, residents, families or caregivers. Ethical dilemmas are not unusual and often patients, residents, families and caregivers need help and advice to work through them. An ethics consultation can provide a confidential, safe, and thoughtful forum intended to assist you and your caregiver with making sound decisions related to your care or the care of a loved one.

The ethics committee comprises doctors, nurses, administration, attorneys, clergy, hospice, and other individuals representative of the communities we serve.

To request an ethics consultation, please contact:
Valerie Oliver, secretary of the ethics committee, at (518) 897-2347.

Advance Directives

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to convey your care decisions ahead of time if you are hurt or too ill to express yourself. Adirondack Health believes each individual should have advance directives, so that the surrogate you choose is aware of your specific desires.

Your doctor or nurse can help explain the two types of advance directives:

Health Care Proxy

A health care proxy is a person chosen by the patient who will make surrogate decisions for the patient in the future if the patient has lost the capacity to make his or her own health care decisions.

A Living Will

A living will reflects the patient's beliefs and priorities and provides guidelines for the kind of medical care that a patient would like to have in the future.

Your nurses or doctors can help you obtain the appropriate forms to fill out and sign. We recommend that you have a thorough conversation with your doctor about the benefits and burdens of each medical treatment and that you have conversations with your designated health care proxy whenever you change your mind about the options for your medical care.

The New York State Department of Health has a website where you can get more information about advance directives:

Learn more about advance directives

PAstoral Care

Spiritual support and guidance are part of our healing tradition

Faith and healing are deeply rooted within the fabric of the Tri-Lakes community. Adirondack Health's pastoral care services provide caring and compassionate resources to assist our patients and families with ethical and end-of-life decision making. This spiritual support and guidance builds on our legacy of healing and continues our tradition of holistic, individualized, resident-centered care.

The role of a chaplain

Our chaplains are readily available to provide spiritual support and assist with special arrangements, such as advance directives, in a time of need. Professional chaplains possess clinical pastoral assessment skills and provide spiritual care, grounded in a theological foundation, to persons who are suffering in mind, body, and spirit.

Professional chaplains serve on an interdisciplinary clinical team, and represent the presence of the Sacred to patients, residents, families, staff, and the local community. By meeting spiritual needs, our chaplains enable people to draw upon the strength of their faith to face the challenges in their lives.

When is a chaplain needed?

Chaplains, representing a broad range of religious denominations, are available to offer spiritual support and assist patients, residents and their families with the challenges that arise from illness and hospitalization. While the staff at Adirondack Health is highly trained to recognize the stressors and concerns that can arise in healthcare settings, our chaplains are available for one-on-one counseling to help in a time of crisis or grief.

Thomas J. Higman, Pastoral Care Coordinator, Adirondack Medical Center & Mercy Living Center

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