Letter: Lawmakers didn’t envision MAiD at hospice

Editor: I am writing to express my concern about the recent directive by the Fraser Health Board that MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) be offered in our Langley Hospice residence. It has always been my understanding that hospice and palliative care is designed to help people and their families journey together towards a dignified death, not to hasten death in any way.

While individuals are in hospice they are supported in a way that enables them to walk towards their final destination.

In truth hospice and palliative care is the true Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) that many in our society say is the stated goal of MAiD; namely, allowing individuals to die with dignity, pain-free and with a supportive community surrounding them.

I understand that the law allows for individuals to make the choice to end their life by accessing MAiD. But the law never envisioned that a hospice was the proper place for this procedure to be carried out.

Until this new directive by Fraser Health, patients were to be transferred to other facilities for this procedure as envisioned by the law.

Now Fraser Health want to change that process. Why?

We are told that to transfer people is cruel or inhumane.

That makes no sense, there are many transfers done in a hospital setting for various elective and required medical procedures. We have a whole business designed to enable these hospital transfers to be carried out when needed. Suddenly that can’t be done ?

Do we ask kidney patients to enter surgical wards for kidney dialysis or do we ask radiologists to perform X-rays or MRIs in a hospital ward setting? Do we offer palliative chemotherapy in a hospice setting? Of course not. We transfer patients to the required facility. So why is it different now?

Why is Fraser Health prepared to allow scarce beds set aside for palliative care to be given up for medical procedures that are both elective and not palliative in nature?

I wonder what would be the outcry if suddenly Fraser Health were to direct hospitals to use much needed beds in others areas for procedures that are not designed to be carried out in that particular area.

The wait lists for needed care would grow and so would the outcry. There are not enough spaces in hospice already. Why would it make sense to give those precious beds away for something other than palliative care?

As a volunteer at the hospice residence, I know first hand the good work and compassionate care that is given to all our friends once they become part of our hospice family. The work carried out at the residence is invaluable.

Please ask yourself why it is OK for Fraser Health to interfere with a service that is in such short supply and is working.

It would be a shame to interfere with what is a needed and compassionate service to the community.

I, for one, will be contacting the Minister of Health Mr. Dix to ask some of these questions.

Kiernan Hillan

Hospice Volunteer

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