News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Hospice of Northwest Michigan awarded grant from Great Lakes Energy People Fund
Funding supports "File of Life" to communicate wishes at end-of-life

(March 31, 2010) Hospice of Northwest Michigan has received a $3,000 grant from the Great Lakes Energy People Fund for the "File of Life"” program.

The "File of Life" is a transparent red folder filled with important medical information that you complete in advance. The "File of Life" includes a Health Information Form that details personal information, such as physician and emergency contact telephone numbers, insurance policies, medical conditions, and recent hospitalizations; Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form; Medication List; and "“Five Wishes" end-of-life planning document. Emergency personnel know to look for a "File of Life" mounted on your refrigerator with Velcro or magnets when they see a sticker on your front door. Then, if there's an emergency where you are unable to communicate, EMS will know your wishes for treatment.

"We're very grateful to the People Fund for supporting the 'File of Life'," said Cheri Hoffman, Executive Director for Hospice of Northwest Michigan, which provides comprehensive hospice services in partnership with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "The 'File of Life' gives people peace of mind, especially people who have a debilitating condition."

Hospice will be distributing the "Files of Life" at no charge. "We are eager to get the 'File of Life' to people who are at risk of a medical emergency," Hoffman said. "It's also available to anyone interested in planning ahead for a time when they may not be able to communicate their wishes."

Emergency personnel take the "File of Life" with patients if they are transported to a hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home. As patients are released, their "File of Life" should be updated and posted back on their refrigerators.

Hospice of Northwest Michigan will distribute the "File of Life" folders through physicians' offices, county senior centers, nursing homes, at community events like health fairs, and by hospital discharge planners and Health Department staff.

Preparing for end-of-life is something everyone should do, no matter what your age, Hoffman said. She finds completing the "Five Wishes" is a good way for many people to begin the conversation about preferences for end-of-life. The "Five Wishes" document, which is available separately from the "File of Life" at no charge at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Mancelona, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs, and Gaylord, clearly defines issues such as:

Members of Great Lakes Energy support the People Fund by voluntarily rounding up their bills to the next highest dollar. The rounded up amount is distributed to non-profit organizations and charitable activities that benefit people in communities served by the cooperative. Please contact Great Lakes Energy or visit for details.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about the "File of Life", call Hospice of Northwest Michigan at 231-547-6029 or 800-551-4140, or visit