Summit County Public Health (SCPH) and Summit County Probate Court hope to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making and encourage conversations among family members and with patients and physicians.

Throughout the month of April, representatives from Probate Court, Summit County Public Health, as well as other groups from local health-care and social service agencies, will hold events to encourage individuals to start the conversation with their doctors and loved ones about end-of-life care choices.

Putting decisions in writing not only brings peace of mind to families but also helps them avoid some of the difficult situations that occur when a person becomes seriously ill.

No one wants to leave their family guessing what their loved one would have wanted. SCPH and Summit County Probate Court can provide the information to spark those conversations and also help individuals to execute written advance directives in accordance with Ohio state laws.

"As your Probate Judge, I urge you to consider an Advance Directive. Some of the most difficult determinations I make deal with health care decisions for those who have not made their choices known," said Probate Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer. "Advance Directives give you a way to let your family, friends and health care providers know your wishes if you are unable to communicate your choices. Having this often difficult conversation now can save your family from more difficult choices in the future."

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), held every April 16 since 2008, raises awareness about the importance of having advance care planning in the event that you can't voice your own health care wishes and encourages adults of all ages to plan ahead before a health crisis.

"As a result of the events surrounding National Healthcare Decisions Day, many more people in our community can be expected to have thoughtful conversations about their health care decisions and complete reliable advance directives to make their wishes known," said Donna Skoda, Health Commissioner Summit County Public Health. "Fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient, and healthcare providers and facilities will be better equipped to address advance healthcare planning issues before a crisis and be better able to honor patient wishes when the time comes to do so."

For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day, to view free resources, or to obtain the April calendar of events, visit www.scph.org and www.summitcountyprobate.com.