PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
April 13, 2017

Cathleen D. Bennett

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Christie Administration Recognizes National Healthcare Decisions Day from April 16 to 22

The New Jersey Department of Health is marking National Healthcare Decisions Day by encouraging New Jersey residents to discuss their healthcare preferences and plans for end-of-life care decisions with their physicians and family.


This year, National Healthcare Decisions Day will be celebrated all week long, from April 16 to 22.  The national theme for 2017 is "It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late."


“Advance care planning offers benefits for individuals and their families,” Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett said. “Individuals have the comfort of knowing that their treatment preferences will be honored and families of patients are relieved from making difficult decisions without knowing what their loved one desired.”

Last month, Commissioner Bennett and New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) President and CEO Betsy Ryan launched New Jersey’s new electronic Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) during a visit to Villa Marie Claire Hospice in Saddle River.

Electronic POLST enables access to an online form - via a secure website and mobile devices - so a patient and physician or advance practice nurse can detail the individual’s goals of care and medical preferences when facing a life-limiting illness.

“Creating electronic access to the POLST form will help ensure patients’ wishes are honored and they can live their life to the fullest,” Commissioner Bennett said. “Through this tool, more healthcare providers will have immediate access to critical information they need to treat the patient according to the patients’ healthcare preference.”

“POLST empowers patients to ensure that their wishes are paramount, in life and in death. Sometimes the highest level of medical care – with multiple procedures or long stays in the hospital – may not be what’s right for the patient,” NJHA President & CEO Betsy Ryan said. “Now, with electronic POLST we’re able to use mobile technology to literally place that power in the hands of patients, along with their primary care providers.”

In 2011, Governor Chris Christie signed New Jersey’s Practitioners Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) law, which allows patients with a life-limiting illness, in collaboration with their health care provider, to identify goals of care and preferences for treatment.

“The majority of New Jersey residents have not documented their preferences for end-of-life care,” Bennett said. “Planning for care is important at any age, and residents don’t need to wait until they are faced with an illness.”

The Department’s palliative and end-of-life care website provides residents with forms, toolkits, and guidance to help guide them in talking about and planning end-of-life care.

National Healthcare Decisions Day highlights the importance of documenting healthcare preferences. Please visit http://www.nhdd.org/ for more information on National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter at twitter.com/NJDeptofHealth and on Facebook at facebook.com/NJDeptofHealth.

Last Reviewed: 4/13/2017