NHDD: Akron Children’s Hospital Style...

As told by Lisa Long, office coordinator at the Haslinger Pediatric Palliative Care Center and Akron Children’s Hospital located in Akron, Ohio

A little about our history w/ National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)…

Last year was the first time we’d participated in NHDD; we paired our event with “Write A Will Day,” an event the hospital had been doing for a few years already. We set up a table at Write A Will Day and had the forms available and notaries scheduled to help us man the table in intervals throughout the day to witness and sign people’s forms. In Ohio, you can have either two witnesses who are not related to you or a notary. We decided to have notaries on hand. However, in the end, we really only had a few people who made a point to bring their forms over to complete. Though we were glad there was some turn out, we were a little disappointed at the lack of community interest.

NHDD with a new attitude...

Thanks to the buzz generated around National Healthcare Decisions Day this year, we were inspired to start early. We thought if we could find a way to make it fun and interesting, then hopefully we could at least get people to stop by and learn something about it. So our event was more about awareness this year– we deemed it a “celebration.” After some brainstorming, we decided that a free raffle would be something that would draw people to visit our display, and when our director gave us a small budget toward a display and some raffle prizes, we were thrilled!

We hosted our event the day before NHDD—Friday, April 15. With three raffle prizes– a road trip basket with some road trip snacks and a $50 gas card; a zoo basket with a $50 Akron Zoo gift card and a small stuffed penguin; and a gardening basket (Lowe’s donated over $100 of merchandise) with a $25 Lowe’s gift card–we got to work on other aspects of our ‘celebration.’ Our audio visual department made us some nice posters with a lot of information provided from the NHDD website, we had silver and red star-shaped foil balloons to make our display especially snazzy, and other small giveaway items like candy and pens.



The way we distributed tickets to the raffle really got people’s attention. Participants received one raffle ticket just for stopping by the display, another ticket if they completed their advance directives and had them signed/witnessed by us. And, yet another if they completed a quiz. We used simple True/False questions for the quiz. It was nothing too difficult, but if you didn’t know anything about advance directives, checking the display for the answers was necessary. Here were our quizzical (True/False) statements:


  • Your church’s religious leader can legally override healthcare choices you document in your Living Will if it disagrees with the church’s beliefs.
  • Even if a healthcare decision is documented in your Living Will, you can change your mind or make a different decision if you are awake and competent.
  • Young, healthy people don’t need advance directives in place because their families will know their wishes and there won’t be any controversy or legal battles over their healthcare decisions if they are unconscious or otherwise unable to decide for themselves.





The first one seemed to confuse the crowd the most—a few people thought that one was true! Thank goodness they were talking to us then! Finally, they could earn another ticket by completing an evaluation about our event (which we received from www.nhdd.org)



We had around 50 people stop by our display in total, which we thought was quite an improvement from last year. Of those, 22 people brought their advance directives forms or completed them there and we were witnesses. It seemed like a busy two hours, which was good, even if the last time I signed my name so many times was when I was buying a house! A large number of people from the hospital’s authorization and registration department attended. The supervisor of that department required her employees to stop by our display as their monthly educational session (and they had to have a raffle ticket stub to prove it). She thought this was an important topic that her employees needed to be more aware of, which was great. And, I think they learned something a lot– some of them actually decided to go ahead and complete their forms after seeing the information. Several others who brought their forms commented that they had been meaning to complete their forms and were so glad we had this event so they could do it.



We worked very hard and it was rewarding to have a better response this year. I hope all the National Healthcare Decisions Day events went well for everyone – it helped to know all of you were doing the same thing we were, wherever you were. The resources on NHDD.org were extremely helpful to us.

Later this week, we'll bring you info on NHDD-inspired events that are still happening around the country, reports of other NHDD success stories and great stats from our national efforts-on and offline. Stay tuned...


Photo from Akron Children's Hospital