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Arizona Launches Online Health Care Directive Registry

"Arizonans will now have a secure location to keep their vital records for health care treatment if they are too injured or sick to speak for themselves"

Arizonans will now be able to record their health care wishes on a new online advance directive registry. Secretary of State Jan Brewer announced the Secretary of State's Advance Directive registry to start up on March 1. The new program is the first public/private partnership in the nation to allow citizens to record their health care directives.

"Arizonans will now have a secure location to keep their vital records for health care treatment if they are too injured or sick to speak for themselves," said Secretary Brewer. "I am proud be a part of this program that will help families and friends know the requests of their loved ones."

Secretary Brewer explained that doctors and hospitals would also benefit from the new registry. "Access to a central database via computer will expedite their patient's health requests," stated Secretary Brewer.

The Secretary of State's Registry is a joint venture maintained and operated by the Secretary of State's Office with financial support arranged for the registry by the not-for-profit Hospice of the Valley. Legislation was drafted by the two cooperating entities and passed last year as HB 2172.

The annual operating cost of the registry is approximately $60,000. No taxpayer money is being used to fund the registry with operating costs supported through community donations and grants.

The need to plan ahead is demonstrated by the tragic Florida case of Terri Schiavo, who has been kept alive by a feeding tube since a potassium imbalance stopped her heart 13 years ago, triggering massive brain damage.

Michael Schiavo, her husband and legal guardian, sought to remove the feeding tube, saying Terri had told him she would not want to be kept alive under such conditions. Terri's parents fought his efforts through every branch of government. On Jan. 24, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the tube feeding to be stopped.

"If Terri had written down her wishes about health-care treatment and end-of-life care, so much heartache could have been avoided," said Barbara Volk-Craft, an administrator at Hospice of the Valley who co-directs the agency's Health Care Decisions program, which supports the registry.

Less than 25 percent of Americans have living wills, health care directives, and medical power of attorney forms. Even if they do, the directives aren't always available or cannot be found when needed.

"Using this registry should give piece of mind to program participants," stated Secretary Brewer. "They are making their requests known and the information will now be readily accessible in a time of crisis."

To participate in the registry, Arizonans fill out an Advance Directive Registration Agreement and mail to the Secretary of State's Office. Call the Secretary of State's Office at 602-542-4285 or visit their Web site at www.azsos.gov. There is no fee to use the registry and the information submitted is confidential and protected.

The office will notify the sender that the directive has been added to the registry, ask for verification of the information and be sent a password to access the registry.
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