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Man saved by ventilator preaches importance of making healthcare decisions in advance

The State Bar says only 1 in 5 Wisconsin adults has an advance care directive so health care providers know what patients want before a life-and-death situation
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 3:34 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A near death experience for a Wisconsinite highlights the importance of healthcare decision making now in case you’re not able to communicate with family or medical providers in the future. Governor Tony Evers even making April 16 “Healthcare Decisions Day.”

Healthcare decisions include having hard conversations about end of life decisions such as do not resuscitate instructions, artificial nutrition, or ventilators.

Three months after Mike and Luciana Wiltse were married, the Brookfield couple was struck by a health emergency. Mike couldn’t breath and was put on a ventilator due to COVID-19 even though he was fully vaccinated. He spent three weeks in the ICU and 13 days on a ventilator to try and save his life.

The State Bar of Wisconsin says only one in five adults living in Wisconsin have advance directives like wanting to be put on a ventilator. Mike appreciates his new wife, Luciana, stepping in at the eleventh hour to sign off on being his designated healthcare agent to make that decision for him.

“Clergy there, we had a physician there, Luciana was in on it through Zoom because she couldn’t even come in to the hospital due to COVID restrictions,” Mike Wiltse with State Bar of Wisconsin remembered. “Then there was a nurse, I remember a nurse being outside the room all witnessing me signing this document.”

“If you become incapacitated and you can’t act for yourself or speak for yourself, you either have to have had a document signed properly before that point in time to appoint someone or you have to go to court and become a legal guardian through a guardian ship process,” retired Wisconsin attorney Ben Adams highlighted.

To help raise awareness and increase action, “A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs” is available for free through the State Bar of Wisconsin until April 22. The guide offers resources for talking about things like CPR or permanent comas.

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