Physician-assisted death approved at Winchester District Memorial Hospital

WINCHESTER — Physician-assisted death is now among the services offered at Winchester District Memorial Hospital, following the hospital board’s Nov. 22 approval for what is also known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) at the institution.

WDMH announced the measure in a Nov. 25 press release.

Medical assistance in dying — also known as “aid in dying” and “physician-assisted death” — means that a physician administers medication that intentionally brings about a patient’s death, at the request of the patient.

“This decision is the result of a lengthy process that began with the change in Canadian law last June, followed by planning involving physicians, staff, patients, families, our Ethics Committee and legal counsel,” notes Marieke vanNoppen, Board Chair.

“This is a new service that WDMH is offering to the communities we serve, but it’s important to note that a component of MAID is the right for health care providers to choose not to be involved,” she adds.

“Anyone at WDMH can choose not to be involved in MAID and that choice will be respected.”

WDMH says it has developed MAID policies and procedures with all of the safeguards required by the law, and it expects the number of requests for assisted death to be minimal. Patients or members of the community who have questions about MAID should discuss them with their doctor, the institution advises.

WDMH points those interested to an Ontario Ministry of Health booklet laying out the conditions for those requesting the medical system to end their life. (It’s also embedded at the end of this article).

Generally, the provincial policy sets out a minimum eligibility age of 18 for those seeking assisted death. For a patient to be considered, a doctor or nurse practitioner must also agree their condition is “grievous and irremediable,” and the patient must be able to consent or decline right up until the moment the fatal procedure is carried out.


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