As new variants to COVID-19 continue to emerge, along with increasing rates of infection, it is more important than ever to be prepared for a health emergency. Consider whether you are just planning or if you are really prepared for a health emergency by reviewing the list below:

If you become ill or are in an accident, who will be your advocate? 

Planning: You have at least one trusted friend or relative and will give their name/number to the hospital when you arrive.

 Prepared: Your advocate is saved as an Emergency Contact on your cell phone. (Tip: To save your Emergency Contact on your phone, go to “Contacts,” find your advocate’s profile, scroll to the bottom of the profile, and select “Add to Emergency Contacts.”

Who is your health care power of attorney?

Planning: You know who you want to make decisions about your health care if you become unable to speak for yourself.

Prepared: You have a signed copy of your Advance Directive/Health care Power of Attorney on file at your local hospital and with your primary care physician’s office.

(Tip: Preparing an Advance Directive does not require an attorney; a nurse advocate can obtain and assist you in preparing and filing.)

Sharing your medications and health history

Planning: You know your medications and dosage and can recite your health history with dates of surgeries, illnesses, and current diagnosis/allergies.

Prepared: You have a paper copy of your current medications and complete health history readily available in your home, car and/or purse.

Understanding your insurance benefits

Planning: You know the name of your insurance company and carry an insurance card.

Prepared: You know your insurance company and which local facilities are in-network, and the cost of co-pays for Urgent Care/ER visits and hospitalization. (Tip: Your health emergency may require treatment beyond the hospital, such as rehab, skilled nursing care in a facility or at home. Being prepared includes knowing those benefits and providers along with your payment responsibility.)

Caring for dependents at home 

Planning: You know the names/contact numbers of neighbors/family who can immediately respond to your pets and dependents at home who may need assistance.

Prepared: You have a written list of names/contact numbers of caregivers who can step in and care for your dependents at home and have pre-arranged plans (such as access to your home) in case you are hospitalized. 

No one plans on a medical emergency, but taking steps to be prepared can significantly help you and your loved ones in your greatest time of need.

Tammy Porter is a doctorate-prepared nurse of 30 years and health care advocate dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of medical processes aiding patients, families and caregivers. She is CEO and founder of MyHealth.MyAdvocate in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 851.4116.

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