By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
A mandate of Catholic health care is to be a community of love and support for patients and their families when they are ill. But many Catholics are not familiar with what the church teaches about health care options, particularly when it comes to end-of-life decision making. The physician-assisted suicide movement, which has been making headway in Iowa, offers an alternative that contradicts church teaching but may seem appealing to seriously ill individuals who are afraid of losing their autonomy.
In response, Iowa’s bishops have undertaken an initiative to establish a cadre of trained individuals who can assist Catholics, on a one-to-one basis, and free of charge, in executing advance directives in accord with Catholic moral teaching. Facilitators will be recruited from among Catholic health care professionals, pastoral care staff at Catholic health care facilities, parish nurses/health ministers, and Catholic attorneys.
In the Davenport Diocese, the Catholic Advance Care Planning program — a daylong, free training — will be held Friday, Oct. 28, at diocesan headquarters in the St. Vincent Center, 780 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport. Anyone interested in Catholic advance care planning is invited to participate.
The program’s instructors are Janine Marie Idziak, Ph.D., and Colleen Walters, MAHCM. Idziak is director of the Bioethics Center at Loras College, Dubuque, and health care ethics consultant for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Walters is Chief Mission Integration Officer for Mercy Health Network-Iowa Regional Health Ministry.
After completing the training program, participants will have the opportunity to serve as Catholic advance care planning consultants either in a health care facility or a parish. They will have been prepared for this role through training that, above all, teaches them to recognize that advance care planning is a process taking place over a life time. They’ll be able to direct Catholics to forms appropriate to their current health status.
The training will also teach participants to recognize stipulations that are in accord with Catholic moral teaching on commonly used advance directive forms. They will be able to discuss church teaching on the benefits and burdens principle for using or forgoing life-sustaining treatments, on medically assisted nutrition and hydration, and on pain management and palliative care measures as guides to completing advance directives.
Once trained, these consultants will also be able to discuss with women of child-bearing age stipulations for advance directives regarding somatic support for brain-dead pregnant women. The consultants will also know how advance directive documents are recorded and used in health care facilities and be aware of problems commonly arising in the use of advance directives. They will know when to direct clients to the use of the IPOST (Iowa Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) form, and be able to advise them on how to complete the form in accord with Catholic moral teaching. In the training, participants will also develop skills in conducting conversations about advance care planning. Participants will receive extensive materials to use in their work as Catholic advance care planning consultants.
If you go:
What: Training for Catholic Advance Care planning consultants.
When: Friday, Oct. 28, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: St. Vincent Center, 780 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport, second-floor conference room.
Cost: Free. Materials and lunch provided.
Audience: Members of Catholic parishes, clergy, social workers, chaplains, attorneys, Parish Health Ministry members and Parish Nurses and those interested in the Catholic Church’s approach to end of life.
To register: Contact Esmeralda Guerrero at Guerrero@davenportdiocese.org or (563) 888-4210.