• Serious Illness and End of life

    Sensitive Support at a Difficult Time

    Confronting a serious, life-threatening illness can be overwhelming for patients and families. A supportive system of compassionate expertise can help provide comfort, direction and peace of mind. With an entire network of health and social services, our team of professionals is dedicated to addressing and managing any end-of-life concerns.

  • Ethics Committee provides assistance with difficult medical decisions
  • Palliative Care 
  • Hospice 
  • Advance Directives  
  • Ethics Committee

    When families are making important medical decisions, ethical dilemmas may make these decisions more difficult to reach. Conflicts between loyalties, rights, duties or values can lead to indecision. For example, the value of preserving life may conflict with other values such as respecting the patient's wishes or relieving suffering.

    The NorthBay Healthcare Ethics Committee offers confidential consultations when sensitive issues create conflict or cause indecision regarding treatment. The Ethics Committee is not a decision-making group, but acts as a resource for patients and families.

    The role of the committee is to:  

    • Provide a forum where ethical, psychological, social, medical, administrative, legal and spiritual issues may be addressed
    • Listen to concerns and help gather information
    • Assist in resolving issues and protect interests of patients, families and caregivers
    • Offer guidance, but not to make decisions or tell your doctor how to proceed

    Issues addressed often include: 

    • End of life care
    • Consent for medical intervention when a patient cannot make wishes known
    • Interpreting living wills
    • Discontinuing treatment
    • When to provide palliative (comfort) care
    • Caring for mentally incompetent patients

    Q. Who Can Request Assistance From the Ethics Committee?

    A. NorthBay Healthcare staff respect the rights of all patients and their families to have adequate information and resources to make informed decisions.

    Any NorthBay Medical Center or VacaValley Hospital patient, family or caregiver who would like assistance in resolving an ethical medical dilemma may contact the Ethics Committee. The committee is not meant to replace, but to assist the family, the patient and the patient’s personal physician.


    Q. When to Contact Us

    A. The first resources available to patients and their families are the physicians, nurses and social workers providing care for the patient. These professionals not only care for the patient’s physical health but also advocate for the patient. If you are unsure about ethical concerns after working with your healthcare professionals and other family members, consider contacting the ethics committee for a consultation. The committee has consulted with patients, families and doctors to sort out options on stopping treatment, caring for mentally incompetent patients, interpreting living wills and many other sensitive issues.

    Q. Who Makes Up the Ethics Committee?

    A. NorthBay Healthcare Ethics Committee is comprised of the following members:

    • Physicians
    • Social Worker
    • Lawyer
    • Community Members
    • Nurses
    • Administrator


    How to Reach the Ethics Committee

    A. If you have questions or would like to request the assistance of the Ethics Committee please call the Medical Staff Office at (707) 646-5098 or e-mail

    The Administrative Coordinator is available after hours to assist in assembling an urgent ethics meeting.

    Q. How Can Advance Directives Help Make Wishes Known?

    A. Advance Directives are documents written in advance of an incapacitating illness to provide guidance for families and caregivers. These documents usually will name an agent to make decisions when a patient is unable to do so. The documents may also state a patient’s choice about treatment.

    NorthBay Healthcare recommends the Advance Health Care Directive since it allows for an agent to be appointed.  Click here to download a PDF Advance Health Care Directive Form (English/Spanish).