Contact: John Clayton
VP, Communications

For Immediate Release
April 12, 2012


CONCORD – A new survey in 25 New Hampshire hospitals found that only 29 percent of acutely ill adult patients had an advance directive in their hospital medical chart to guide health care decision-making if they were unable to do so.

The Foundation for Healthy Communities and many other organizations are leading an effort in New Hampshire to highlight the importance of advance health care directives with National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16.

"National Healthcare Decisions Day is a reminder to talk with family or friends about your wishes in the event of a medical crisis," said Shawn LaFrance, executive director of the Foundation for Healthy Communities. "Completing an advance directive can make your wishes known about difficult medical decisions, and healthcare providers will be better able to honor patients' wishes when the time comes."

According to the statewide survey conducted last month, of the 1,425 patients who took part, only 427 patients had documentation of who they would want to make decisions for them if they lacked capacity to do so.

"The focus of National Healthcare Decisions Day is on education," LaFrance added. "It aims to increase the number of people who understand the importance of advance care directives and planning for serious illness or end-of-life care. Many organizations observe the designated day by providing information to clients, patients or residents and their families as well as to their employees."

The Foundation for Healthy Communities provides information to help people address the topic with family, friends and health care providers and complete a written advance directive, such as healthcare power of attorney or a living will, in accordance with New Hampshire law. The Foundation's Advance Care Planning Guide is available free of charge online at and a free video is available on YouTube.

The Foundation for Healthy Communities is a nonprofit corporation that exists to improve health and health care in New Hampshire. The Foundation's partnerships include hospitals, health plans, clinicians, home care agencies, public policy leaders, and other organizations.