For Immediate Release July 05, 2023

The Population Health team at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health (UM SRH) launched a campaign in July 2022 to encourage people of all ages to complete an advance directive and share it with the health care system to be scanned into their personal electronic medical record (EMR).

During the first year of the campaign, Population Health team members Kathy Sellers and Terry Satchell, RN were given an ambitious goal: Collect and scan at least 1,000 advance directives for inclusion in individuals' EMRs by July 1, 2023. To make it easy for locals to file their advance directive paperwork with the health care system, secure drop boxes were installed outside all four UM Shore Regional Health emergency entrances - Cambridge, Chestertown, Easton and Queenstown. (The documents also may be scanned and sent via e-mail.)

"We also went out and about in all five counties, talking to people at health fairs, senior living communities and community organizations about the importance of advance directives, providing the paperwork and answering questions," said Sellers.

This outreach helped the campaign gain momentum, and on June 19, 2023, the 1,000th advance directive – completed by Richard "Brooke" Lynch of Easton - landed in Sellers' email inbox.

"I learned about this opportunity when I spoke to Terry and Kathy during a health fair at the community center where I live," said Lynch. "I had done my advance directive a few times over the years, so it was a matter of updating it and sending it for inclusion in my electronic medical record with the health care system."

As the second year of the advance directive initiative gets under way, Sellers and Satchell have a new goal: 1,250 directives completed and scanned into the appropriate EMR by July 1, 2024.

"An advance directive is a gift to your loved ones if you become incapacitated," said Satchell. "It spares them from having to make difficult choices, from high-tech medical interventions to palliative care, on your behalf. Through an advance directive, you document for health care providers what you want — or don't want — in terms of your end-of-life care."

While many people put off completing their advance directive, others do so, but keep the paperwork in a drawer at home or on file in their lawyer's office, or both.

"In that case, there can be delays in locating your advance directive and contacting the person you appointed as your health care agent," said Satchell. "This is why we are offering the option of having the paperwork scanned into your EMR, where it can be accessed promptly by the clinicians providing your care."

"We hope more organizations will be willing to host us to talk to their members about this important aspect of managing their health care," said Sellers. "We are now working on a new schedule of visits that will start in September."

For more information or to send an advance directive for inclusion in your EMR, contact Sellers,