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The Duke Endowment awards Novant Health $390,000 to support advance care planning for seriously ill patients

Novant Health Choices and Champions® helps people plan for their health care journey

WINSTON-SALEM -- The Duke Endowment recently awarded a $390,000 grant to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation to provide advance care planning assistance for people facing chronic and serious illnesses. The grant will support Novant Health Choices and Champions® advance care planning facilitators who help people verbalize what matters most to them, identify their health care goals and name a health care champion. A health care champion is someone a person trusts to speak for the individual if that person is unable to make his or her own medical decisions.  

Advance care planning facilitators make sure an individual’s health care goals and wishes are accessible to providers and health care team members by documenting conversations in medical records. The facilitators also assist people in completing advance directives (health care power of attorney and/or living will), which are available in English and Spanish.

“Studies consistently show that only a third of Americans have completed advance directives,” said Lin Hollowell, health care program area director for The Duke Endowment. “While it’s not always an easy topic to discuss, not having a plan in place can make navigating complex health care choices more challenging if patients are unable to make their own medical decisions. Novant Health Choices and Champions serves as a wonderful resource for patients to not only develop a care plan that will honor their health care wishes with dignity but also to provide peace of mind for their family.”

The Duke Endowment grant will create a better approach to planning advance care in an easy way, especially for those identified as highly likely to benefit based on over 300 factors including diagnosis, hospitalization and frailty score. During the advance care planning process, facilitators provide toolkits including educational resources for patients and their families. Advance care planning facilitators help these patients initiate conversations to determine how they want to live and communicate their health care goals to those who matter most to them.  

In 2020, the American Hospital Association awarded Novant Health’s Choices and Champions the Circle of Life recognition honoring the program as a national model for advance care planning. In 2021, Novant Health hired two advance care planning facilitators who counsel patients using print materials, telehealth and in-person visits. The team also hired a program manager to assist with data mining, analysis and reporting. The Duke Endowment grant makes this work possible.

“Choices and Champions doesn’t take the place of hospice in caring for seriously ill patients,” said Adam Koontz, Novant Health senior director of ethics, advance care planning and spiritual care. “Our work is to clarify options and help people make decisions at a time when they are faced with a dizzying array of personal challenges.”

Wherever patients are in their health care journey, advance care planning can help clarify wishes to improve quality of life. For more information about Choices and Champions and advance care planning, call toll-free 1-844-677-5134.

Posted on Monday, April 18, 2022