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How COVID-19 Has Heightened the Importance of Advance Care Planning

Published in Advance Care Planning, Women's Services, Senior Services, Home Health Services, Hospice Services, Palliative Care, Men's Health, For the Health of It Author: Lori Braegelmann, Advance Care Planning Program Manager

Many of us think that Advance Care Planning and Health Care Directives are for extremely old, sick or frail people. However, COVID-19 has been a stark reminder that we can be perfectly healthy one day, and then not.

A unique aspect of COVID-19 has been its unpredictability — even those of us who consider ourselves to be reasonably healthy have felt more vulnerable or even have become incapacitated. It has made planning complex and sometimes impossible. Sadly, many COVID-19 patients are unprepared and have not informed their loved ones of their medical treatment wishes or preferences when they became unable to speak for themselves.

Many of us may feel helpless despite following all the recommended COVID-19 health protocols including vaccines, boosters, masking, social distancing, etc. We may be unaware there is one more thing we can do to prepare and be proactive about medical uncertainties. It’s called Advance Care Planning. It’s needed now more than ever.

Advance Care Planning is the important process of figuring out your wishes and values for future medical care. A byproduct of this process is the Health Care Directive — your roadmap; the legal form that instructs your health care agents and medical team how to proceed.

Health Care Directives cover us for unexpected incidents including car accidents, sudden health scares and the unpredictability of COVID-19. Are you prepared? Is your roadmap ready? Do you have loved ones lined up to speak on your behalf? Are they able to make confident decisions on your behalf? Do they know your medical wishes?

The world feels less predictable than before. The consequences of ignoring Health Care Directives seem too high. Act. Download a Health Care Directive. Have the important conversations. Encourage a dear friend to complete a Health Care Directive with you. Attend a free educational session together.

Quick Health Care Directive Factoids

  • All adults 18 years of age or older should complete one
  • Forms can be downloaded
  • Forms are free
  • In Minnesota, forms are considered legal with two witness signatures (or a notary public)

Advance Care Planning resources are available to help us plan before a medical crisis:

A copy of your completed health care directive can be scanned and sent via email to:

Or the document can be mailed to:

CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital
Attn: HIM Dept.
1406 Sixth Ave North
St. Cloud, MN 56303-9893