LETTER: Hospice Peterborough should provide medical assistance in dying

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A photo of the Hospice Peterborough site taken Monday, April 27, 2020 in Peterborough, Ont.

For the editor:

We are fortunate in Peterborough to have the Peterborough Hospice available, free of charge, to people in our community who are nearing the end of their lives. The hospice aims to support individuals and families living with or affected by life-threatening illness and bereavement.

What many local residents may not know is that at this time, Hospice Peterborough does not allow medical assistance in dying (MAID) to be provided on site. MAID has been a legal end-of-life treatment option for eligible people across Canada since 2016.

Currently, Peterborough Hospice advises patients that during the admissions process, MAID is not provided onsite. Not allowing MAID at Peterborough Hospice means that people who want the option of choosing medically assisted death and who are still living in the community will not have MAID available to them at Hospice. They need to consider other options for their end-of-life care.

For those who choose to exercise their right to assisted death after admission to hospice, they will have no choice but to be transferred to the Peterborough Regional Health Center (PRHC) at a time when they could suffer unbearably, emotionally and physically. The transfer to PRHC for the provision of MAID, causes additional stress at an already difficult time and means that some people, who must receive additional medication to manage the trip, may not be conscious enough to enjoy a final farewell with their loved ones. .

The assessment and provision of MAID is a constitutionally protected option and should be available in all publicly funded health care facilities. Peterborough Hospice receives most of its funding from the Government of Ontario through the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). For 2022, this amount was over $2 million.

According to a 2022 Ipsos poll, we know that 76% of Canadians agree that all health care facilities that receive public funding should provide a full range of health care services, including MAID, if they have the proper equipment and personnel to do so. Providing MAID does not require any specialized equipment, just an IV line for medications and a reclining bed or chair. All individuals have a private room at Peterborough Hospice.

The Peterborough Hospice Board is currently reviewing the current policy which prohibits MAID on site. The board must consider that the majority of the members of the community it represents support the AMM. The new policy should enable MAID at Peterborough Hospice, providing support to the client, family and staff before, during and after MAID. The new policy is expected to reflect the commitment set out on the Peterborough Hospice website: “Hospice staff and volunteers actively listen and offer support without judgment and respect for personal choice, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability, age, socio-economic conditions. or cultural background, or type and stage of life-threatening illness or bereavement.

As the board reviews the policy that prohibits physician-assisted dying at our local hospice, this is an opportunity for us to speak out for the removal of this barrier to MAID. You can email your comments to [email protected]

Mary Ellen Meyers

Havelock

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