AHS creating central co-ordinating service for doctor-assisted dying

Catholic-based facilities Villa Marie in Red Deer and Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital in Castor will not be providing medical assistance in dying.

Catholic-based facilities Villa Marie in Red Deer and Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital in Castor will not be providing medical assistance in dying.

But the province says the option will still be available by transferring residents.

“At the moment we have more than 80 doctors across Alberta who have expressed interest in supporting patients through medical assistance in dying, right across all five zones. One of the many options that will be available to all Albertans is the option of accessing medical assistance in dying through their home or through other locations,” said Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne on Thursday.

“Alberta Health Services has worked really carefully to create a central co-ordinating service for medical assistance in dying to ensure any patient wherever they are in Alberta who are choosing to exercise this right that they will have support and be guided through the process to help ensure that they have access to medical assistance in dying.”

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Villa Marie, a Covenant Care facility, has 100 supportive living Level 4 care beds, or beds that are one level below long-term care which is the highest care level for seniors. A 66-bed expansion project is planned.

The Covenant Health hospital in Castor has five acute care beds and 22 continuing care beds.

On Monday, the province introduced its motion on medical assistance in dying. Debate has concluded and cabinet will be reviewing the regulations to ensure checks and balances are in place to ensure access while protecting vulnerable Albertans.

Payne could not say when the regulations will be approved by cabinet, but access and rules for medical assisted dying is already in place through AHS, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and the court system while the federal government works to approve Bill C-14.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon said it was extremely frustrating and disappointing to the Wildrose opposition when government limited debate in the legislature to six hours and revealed the draft regulations at the same time the motion was brought forward.

“We’re just shocked at how fast it is and we’ve had very little time to absorb it and put the proper research and work into this important file,” Nixon said.

“It’s a tough issue, lots of emotion and lots of different view points. We have to give people the opportunity to participate in something so important.”

He said he will still seek as much feedback as possible from his constituents.

Payne said the province has already heard from over 15,000 Albertans through an online survey, along with written submissions from stakeholder groups like Covenant Health and feedback from individual Albertans.

“I feel like we’ve done a good job of reaching out to Albertans on this and I’ve been very grateful to all of the Albertans who took the time to share their feedback as well as share their heart-felt stories with us.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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