Dying with dignity
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
News Staff The subject matter hit extremely close to home for one member of the group of about 40 people who attended an information session on medically-assisted dying Monday night at Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria.
Michelle Roy, of Rivière Beaudette, captured the crowd’s attention as she emotionally recalled her personal experiences with the controversial life-ending option and how it “brought peace” to her terminally ill sibling, Manon Roy.
“I’ve gone through the MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) procedure with my sister, just recently, in January,” said Ms. Roy, who added that Manon also suffered from multiple sclerosis.
“She was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and it was her request to have the MAID procedure after she was diagnosed on Dec. 30, 2016…Doctors only gave her weeks or months.”
Ms. Roy, who was her sister’s primary caregiver during her last several weeks, pointed out that the procedure was done locally, on the 29th anniversary of their mother’s death January 30, in her room at the retirement centre in Green Valley, by a physician from Alexandria.
“For me, having gone through this, I would have to say that it was the most humane thing to do for my sister. She was suffering a lot,” she explained.
“She was ready to go. It’s what she wanted and she was at peace with her decision. It was heart-wrenching for the family, but it was a beautiful experience.”
At this time, the MAID procedure is not offered at HGMH, so Monday night’s public meeting was held not only as an information session, but also to gauge local interest in adding the service at the local hospital. “We want to know, as a community, how do you feel about this? Do you think that it’s something that should be
offered locally?” said hospital CEO Linda Morrow.
“If the community response is overwhelming, and you say, ‘We want this service here at the hospital,’ then the (hospital) board can look at it and discuss it further…and recruit for a physician (to perform the procedure), or we can actively resource ourselves to see what we can do.”
Jacqueline Fraser, HGMH board past chairperson, explained that the enactment of bill C-14 – establishing a federal framework for the lawful provision of medical assistance in dying – in June 2016 has led to “each ( medical) organization, hospital, nursing home, having to make a decision as to whether the service can be offered, through various consultations.”
If, following local consultations involving hospital staff; the facility’s medical advisory, ethics, and patient and family advisory committees; as well as its board of directors and the general public, the decision is made not to offer the service at HGMH, it will be the “professional duty” of a physician or medical service provider at the hospital to refer any requests to an external doctor or nurse practitioner who is willing to assess the patient and offer the service.
“The (hospital) board has been grappling with the bill and its contents and repercussions, since the bill was passed,” said Mrs. Fraser, who added that a subcommittee from the hospital board has also been established “in order to better comprehend the ins and outs…before setting a policy whereby we will offer the service or simply refer the patient to another hospital that offers it.”
During discussions focusing on the legislative provision that requires a minimum 10-day waiting period between the time of the written request by the patient for the service and the administration of the MAID procedure, Dr. Nadia Kucherepa, hospital chief of staff, as well as hospital board and subcommittee member, referred to MAID as “an acute intervention, not a safety net to prevent suffering down the road,” that could be planned months or years beforehand.
A community survey aimed at helping HGMH formulate its MAID policy can be found at goo.gl/8alxbR.
For further information about MAID, visit goo. gl/ go8dXU and/or goo.gl/PKBFuQ.
HUMANE ACT: Rivière Beaudette resident Michelle Roy speaks about her terminally ill sister Manon’s decision to end her life.
CONSULTATION: Hospital board members Robin Flockton and Jacqueline Fraser at Monday’s session.