This past year has shown all of us just how quickly things can change. Nothing could have prepared us for what we have experienced.

April 16 marked National Healthcare Decisions Day to remind us to think about our own values and priorities regarding health care and to have meaningful conversations with those closest to you.

This day is set aside to help people understand that advance health care decision-making includes much more than living wills. It is a process that should focus first on conversations and choosing an agent, or the person, who would be your voice if you cannot speak for yourself.

If you need assistance, Vidant’s Advance Care Planning team works at providing clear, concise and consistent information for the public and for health care providers.

A downloadable toolkit is available at It includes a simple HealthCare Power of Attorney to designate your health care agent (your voice) and a living will so you can document your medical wishes if you were approaching your final days. These are choices you can make now.

For additional information on how you can get started on the advance care planning process, you can contact the team at 847-4972.

By focusing on the need for communities to come together to strengthen and support the very foundation of our health and our communities, we can start new conversations with our neighbors to become advocates for change.

Engage with your elected officials to focus on public health issues, implementing prevention programs and increasing access to healthcare.

In the midst of the most challenging public health crisis of our lifetimes, it’s more important than ever to celebrate each other and our public health community. It is the role of public health workers to promote wellness and protect the areas where we all live, work, learn and play.

Join us in thanking our local public health partners for all the hard work they do to keep our community safe and healthy. Working together we can push to achieve health equity and eventually become a healthier nation!

Pitt Partners for Health (PPH) is a community health improvement partnership with representatives from local churches, businesses, communities, the hospital, health department and other human service agencies. The partnership mission is to improve the population health of Pitt County through coalition building and partnership. PPH meets on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, contact Mary Hall . Find the group on Facebook or visit its website

Vicki Dougherty is part of the Advance Care Planning Team at Vidant Health, a social worker and a death doula.