Thousands Visit State Health Department Web Site Over Holiday Weekend for Health Care Proxy Information

ALBANY, March 28, 2005 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today said that the public interest in health care proxies continues to surge, with nearly 10,000 visitors downloading a copy of the proxy from the Department's web site this past holiday weekend alone.

"There is a wealth of information on the State Health Department's web site and we are pleased that the public is utilizing it to obtain a health care proxy form and answer the questions they have on this issue," Dr. Novello said. "Take the necessary steps to protect your decision-making power, complete the health proxy and designate someone you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf."

To obtain more information, people can visit the State Health Department's web site at www.health.ny.gov and download the proxy form. Information and forms are available in four languages: English, Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

A health care proxy allows individuals to designate another person as their "agent," with the authority to make health care decisions for them. The proxy can be written to give the agent as much or as little authority as the individual desires, including removing or providing life-sustaining treatments. It is recommended that an agent and an alternate agent be designated.

Individuals may choose any adult (18 years of age or older), including a family member or close friend to serve as a health care proxy agent. If a doctor is chosen as the agent by a person, he or she cannot also serve as the health care provider to the patient. Appointing a health care agent is voluntary and is a decision that should be made by individuals to better plan for potential contingencies in cases of changes in their health status that leave them incapacitated.