Dy­ing with dig­nity

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -


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.

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