Skip to Content
December 8, 2016

New Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership Announced

Four health-related partners announced this week the formation of Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership.

Collaborative Aims to Make Advance Care Conversations, Planning an Integral Part of Living

Four health-related partners announced this week the formation of Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership.

The new partnership was created to help people living in the Fox Valley make decisions ahead of time about what they want at the end of their lives. The partnership includes ThedaCare, Ascension-Wisconsin: Fox Valley Region, Mosaic Family Health, and Fox Valley Coalition for Advance Care Planning. The ThedaCare Community Health Action Team (CHAT) provided a grant of $166,000 to support the effort over the next three years. Funding and in-kind support from the health systems, as well as the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., are making this effort possible.

The new partnership began in the spring of 2014 when CHAT hosted a plunge on End of Life.  More than 80 community leaders spent the day learning about the importance of advance care planning.

“Talking about death is taboo,” said Jodi Braun, vice president, Care Transitions, ThedaCare. “So, families avoid the conversation and don’t know what to do when a parent is in the ICU or in the Emergency Room for the fourth time in a few months, and odds of more care improving outcomes are inconsistent with the patient’s own wishes. The children often want to provide care at all costs even though that may not be what mom or dad would have wanted. I’ve seen these decisions hurt families, cause serious conflicts for families that can be unresolved for many years and negatively impact relationships.”

“On the provider side, physicians often don’t know the patient’s desires, so they perform whatever treatments are indicated because of fear of litigation or because they were trained to save a life at all costs,” said Dr. Nancy Homburg, medical director for Ascension Hospice. “Often these procedures inflict more pain and suffering and more medical costs.  Families end up in divisive arguments about what ‘mom would have wanted.”

“Our society plans all kinds of special events—baptisms, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, weddings, special anniversaries, and holidays. Unfortunately, despite our death rate holding steady at 100 percent, too many people refuse to prepare for the inevitable,” added Homburg. “With preparation and sharing wishes with your family, it's more likely your death will be done with dignity, your pain and symptoms managed, and you'll be surrounded by your loved ones and a supportive community.”

“If we don't share how we want to die, how will anyone know?” said Braun. “The Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership will encourage and enable everyone living in the area to become the authors of their life's last chapter.”

The Partnership will focus on both community-based and health system strategies for advance care planning and ensuring those plans are available in the health systems when needed.   The Partnership hired Ellen Koski, MPH, CPH, to lead the community-wide initiative. Koski is a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health with an emphasis in Community Health Promotion. She previously worked as a health educator for Outagamie County Public Health Division and spent more than eight years teaching and assisting with courses at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis. She continues to teach a Death and Dying course online. Her office is at the Mosaic Family Health, 229 S. Morrison, Appleton.

“Learning about death and dying can help people get more out of life,” said Koski. “This universal experience must be approached as a family and community to truly care for the whole person — and their survivors.”