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Assisted-dying is available locally

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

NORTHUMBERLAND - 

It’s not accurate to say no in-home assisted-dying procedure has been performed in Northumberland County, Dr. Mark Essak said in a recent interview.

One procedure has been performed, he said, and it was an in-home procedure.

Dr. Essak expressed concern that questions surrounding whether the procedure known as Medical Assistance In Dying is available at Northumberland Hills Hospital never seem to include the information that having the procedure at home is an option.

“Patients should feel they can ask their physicians if they are interested, and know there are people within Northumberland County,” Dr. Essak said.

“I have talked to doctors east to west, and there are people willing to do this.

“There are at least four physicians I know of within Northumberland County who are willing to provide assistance to patients, and the government policy is that physicians have to help their patients who want this, or to make an appropriate referral,” he said.

Medical Assistance In Dying was legalized last summer, and Dr. Essak says that the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care has a registry to ensure that physicians who are willing to help their patients by providing the procedure are registered. If a physician does not want to perform the procedure, he or she can call the ministry in order to be able to provide a referral.

But the obligations of all physicians on this issue are clearly set out in the policy on the College of Physicians and Surgeons Ontario website, he said. If a patient wants the procedure and the physician is unwilling, he or she has to help the patient get it by providing a referral.

In short, Dr. Essak said, “If anybody in the community is looking for this, it’s available. And they should talk to their doctor.”

cnasmith@postmedia.com

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