Fraser Health is offering no assurance that Delta Hospice won’t be required to provide medically assisted deaths.
Hospice executive director Nancy Macey, who’s been raising concern that hospices will be compelled by the health region to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), which is now legal in Canada, last week met with a Fraser Health official to discuss the local society’s issues.
The Fraser Health board of directors has agreed to phase in implementation of MAiD in hospice palliative care units and hospice residences throughout the health region, however, Macey said it’s a procedure philosophically at odds with what’s provided in hospice care. It’s something, she said, that could also discourage people from seeking palliative care services from hospices.
Macey said no date for implementation was given other than it would be phased in, but the FHA board did invite hospice palliative care medical physicians in Fraser Health to make a presentation.
The Delta Hospice Society discussed options such as an exemption from providing MAiD at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner but weren’t told that’s an option.
“It is important for the community to know that all people have the legal option to choose MAiD to die. In Fraser Health, the procedures can be implemented in hospitals, homes and other places a person may wish. A dedicated site for patients and families for the MAiD procedure has been set up in New Westminster. Therefore, there are not barriers to access,” Macey explained.
“This issue is about preserving the integrity of the hospice palliative program and honouring the rights of people who choose to die with comfort, meaning, hope and healing in a palliative care unit or hospice residence.”
Delta Hospice has a partnership with Fraser Health for funding of operations of the Irene Thomas Hospice. Delta Hospice contributes significant funds to enhance the operations annually, Macey noted.
The society raised all of the $8.5 million to build the hospice and the adjacent centre for supportive care.
Delta South MLA Ian Paton, who has been advocating to allow hospices the right to choose to provide MAiD, said the direction for implementation of MAiD in hospices comes from the Fraser Health board, so it needs to be convinced otherwise.
The Delta Hospice Society provides comfort and care to individuals with life threatening diseases, but does not hasten or prolong death. MAiD is against the Delta Hospice Society’s philosophy of care, said Paton.