Health Centre board directs development of hospital protocols for end of life care

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) board of directors carried a motion at its meeting last week, directing hospital management to develop policies, procedures and a framework for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).

“I provided a summary to the board on MAiD to provide a legal and historical framework for the creation of Bill C-14,” explained MHC CEO Derek Graham. “We talked about how MAiD aligned with the MHC mission and the needs of the community. The president of the medical staff, Dr. Mike Bedard, and MHC Chief of Staff Dr. Stephen Cooper talked about the perspective of the medical staff. We also talked about both personal and corporate responsibilities to elevate suffering.”

“The board felt it had both a legal responsibility and a duty to service the community and directed MHC management to develop policies, procedures and a framework for MAiD,” said Mr. Graham. “The board is very attune and sensitive to the issue and understands that there may be different view points on the MAiD, but determined that it is the duty of MHC to provide the service to the community.”

“The professional staff met on October 22 to discuss MAiD,” states a report to the board from the MHC medical staff. “The group heard presentations from individual physicians and allied health providers. At the end of the discussion there was consensus among the group that MAiD should be available to Manitoulin residents on the Island. The professional staff were of the opinion that because of the intimate nature of MAiD that is was reasonable that at least one of the eligibility reviews and the MAiD procedure should be provided by a local clinician. Though there was no individual that was willing to step forward to commit to providing MAiD procedure at this time, it was clear from the discussion that one of the professional staff at MHC would be willing to provide MAiD procedures at the MHC facilities if MHC chooses to offer the service. The professional staff were respectful of physicians who choose to conscientiously object to MAiD and would accept effective referrals.”

“Professional staff did request support in reviewing eligibility of patients requesting MAiD from an expert,” continued the report. “Primarily to ensure the patients have the opportunity of expert opinion, but also to have an expert review the documentation to ensure it meets provincial/college requirements for MAiD. The professional staff request that until the procedure becomes routine and familiar that MAiD be performed in the hospital setting, primarily because clinicians felt more comfortable in the hospital setting where they have more control of the procedure and are supported by the policy, procedures and structure of the hospital environment.”

Mr. Graham said that the board’s motion and the physicians support is a first step in MAiD at MHC.

“Management will report back to the board once the policies, procedures and framework are developed,” said Mr. Graham. “I can’t give you a time frame right now for when it will be completed, but it is high on our priority list and a large body of knowledge for us to draw on—we feel well supported in developing this framework.”