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NHH to offer medically assisted dying

Northumberland Hills Hospital

Northumberland Hills Hospital

COBOURG - Northumberland Hills Hospital will offer medically assisted deaths, the hospital has announced.

Until now, NHH patients seeking the service have been referred to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

The hospital's board of directors has accepted a report from the medical advisory committee that recommends providing the service, which would see medical professionals provide and administer medication that ends a patient's life, at the patient's request.

The patient must have a "grievous and irremediable medical condition" that causes the person to endure intolerable suffering, the committee report states.

The hospital refers to its program as MAiD, for medically assistance in dying.

"Following demonstration of local and regional patient need, and confirmation of a core group of health care professionals trained and willing to provide the service, hospital-based MAiD will also be available at NHH," stated Dr. Mukesh Bhargava, NHH Chief of Staff in a recent memo to staff.

The Supreme Court of Canada determined medically assisted dying is a Constitutional right, and the Criminal Code was amended to exempt health-care providers who carry out the procedure from criminal charges.

The change meant health-care providers are obligated to provide the service, with some exceptions. NHH began looking at the issue earlier this year, with president and CEO Linda Davis telling Northumberland Today in February there were many ethical, clinical and legal issues to consider before implementing the program.

In the meantime, patients were sent to Peterborough.

"I'm pleased we'll now be able to offer this service in our local hospital, as well as in the community, to better meet the needs of our patients," stated Dr. Kate Everdell, a family physician and a member of the MAiD Support Team at NHH, in a release.

Everdell and Dr. Mark Essak, also an area family physician, were part of an interdisciplinary working group at NHH that developed the policies and processes for MAiD.

For information on medically assistance in dying, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/medical-assistance-dying-and-end-life-decisions

NHH patients can also speak to their care team, the release states.