Together with Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, VNA/EMHS Home Health and Hospice, Thriving in Place Partners, the Blue Hill Public Library, and an amazing group of community volunteers, we are excited to announce Choices That Matter, a project aimed at encouraging people in all our communities to consider and implement end-of-life planning and discuss their wishes with their family and healthcare providers.

Why write an advance directive? There's a beautiful quote from Dr. Ira Byock, a leader in end-of-life care: "I have an Advance Directive not because I have a serious illness but because I have a family." If you became incapacitated, would your family know your wishes for care? 

It all started when a community volunteer brought to our attention a program that has been running in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, through which 97% of the adults in that community have advance directives. Wow! A steering committee came together to study the technique used in that community and resources from programs like The Conversation Project. Three subcommittees have been studying things like a curriculum for training volunteer community facilitators, how to reach people in the community, and how to integrate work in the community with the hospitals and healthcare providers.

Already, two community members who are passionate about the subject have put together a two-part workshop called Choices That Matter: Optimizing Healthcare Decisions for Difficult Times. It has been offered in Stonington and Blue Hill. Watch for notices about further workshops.

If you haven't seen "Being Mortal," the PBS Frontline documentary with Dr. Atul Gawande based on his book of the same title, there has been several showings in the area, arranged by Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County. In fact, one is scheduled for May 24 at 6 pm at the Brooksville Free Public Library. It will be followed by a panel discussion and time to ask questions. You can also watch "Being Mortal" on YouTube (, but you'll miss the discussion.