For Immediate Release


Contact: Barbara Erb
U.S. Living Will Registry
Phone: (908) 654-1441/Fax: (908) 654-1919

U.S. Living Will Registry Partners with VHA Southwest to Help Hospitals Manage Advance Directives

Solves problem of storing and retrieving documents

Westfield, N.J. (March 18, 2002) – The U.S. Living Will Registry and VHA Southwest today announced a partnership to help hospitals solve the problem of storing and retrieving advance directives. The agreement allows VHA Southwest member hospitals to easily outsource the management of these important documents. Commonly known as living wills or health care proxies, advance directives allow people to make their health care choices known if they are incapacitated. Hospitals are required by federal and state law to ask all patients if they have an advance directive, and if so, to obtain a copy for the medical record. Managing the storage and retrieval of these documents has been a problem for hospitals. “It’s a very time consuming process to find an advance directive that was previously filed,” said Roy Hart, FACHE, vice president of information technology at VHA Southwest. “Some hospitals convert their records to electronic media or microfiche, making it even more difficult to retrieve a copy of the document,” he continued. The U.S. Living Will Registry solves these problems with its centralized repository of advance directives.

The Registry electronically stores advance directives and makes them available to hospitals and other health care providers 24 hours a day by telephone or Internet through an automated system. Because only health care providers have access to the documents, privacy and confidentiality are maintained. Each registrant is contacted annually to confirm that their advance directive has not been changed or revoked, so the document on file is up to date. “We take the headache of managing advance directives away from hospitals, and at the same time help them comply with federal and state regulations,” said Dr. Joseph Barmakian, founder of the Registry. “In addition, patients who register their advance directives with us have the peace of mind of knowing that their wishes will be available whenever and wherever they are needed,” he continued. While many people have prepared these documents, studies show that 35% of advance directives are not available when needed.

VHA Southwest partnered with the Registry in response to requests from its member hospitals to find a solution for managing their advance directives. VHA Southwest, a regional health care system of VHA Inc., develops customized programs and services to meet the needs of its members and their communities. VHA Southwest members receive the Registry’s services at discounted rates through the partnership.

The U.S. Living Will Registry provides advance directive and organ donor registry services to health care providers across the country. For more information about the Registry, call 1-800-LIV-WILL, or visit




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