People in La Crosse, Wisconsin are used to talking about death. In fact, 96 percent of people who die in this small, Midwestern city have specific directions laid out for when they pass. That number is astounding. Nationwide, it’s more like 50 percent. NPR’s Planet Money focused on the one place in America that is at ease with mortality and how being comfortable with mortality can save a lot of money.
Bud Hammes, PhD, Director, Medical Humanities & Respecting Choices for Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse, Wisconsin was featured on NPR’s Planet Money February 28th, 2014. The episode, The Town That Loves Death, discusses the importance of having conversations about and understanding one’s advanced care planning preferences. Through his expertise as a medical ethicist and experience guiding people through difficult end-of-life decisions, Dr. Hammes, with the support of Gundersen leadership including, Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO, have created a successful framework with the proliferation of Respecting Choices.
Today, LaCrosse, Wisconsin spends less on healthcare than any other place in the country. This is partly due to the community and most important the health system embracing the power of conversations to deliver patient-centered and family-centered coordinated care. For citizens of La Crosse dying has become acceptable dinner conversation for teenagers and senior citizens alike. Listen to the 2 part series as they take you to a place where dying has become acceptable dinner conversation for teenagers and senior citizens alike. A place that also happens to have the lowest healthcare spending of any region in the country.