Retired chaplain takes issue with Equal Access Committee

Dear editor,

I was hoping that someone with some authority in health care in the Comox Valley, or someone who worked so hard to get the funding of our magnificent hospice, would hurriedly answer the presumptuous arguments of the Equal Access Committee about putting MAiD under the same roof as hospice and in so doing, have hospice move to a new location.

However, since I have been a spiritual guide for more than 20 years in different hospices in America, I am horrified by the intent of the Equal Access Committee to act so forcefully in getting hospice to move with them out of the St. Joseph’s Hospital ground. Perhaps they don’t know or care that all hospices in the world are mandated to manage the pain of their clients by supporting them so they will die in their own time and not before their time?

And wouldn’t that become a huge burden for families who trust that the hospice mission is to provide medical and spiritual services to their loved ones so they will die in peace and security, allowing the natural and spiritual process that dying in awareness can provide?

Moreover, EAC does not seem to know that most patients who enter ‘hospice care’ prefer to stay at home with their families and that those few beds at The Views are for those who do not have a caregiver. On the contrary, wouldn’t the patients who choose to end their life early because of agonizing pain, prefer to do it in the privacy of their homes, since it is such a private and difficult decision?

I understand and applaud the Canadian law that legalized medically assisted death for those suffering from unremitting pain but, at the same time, I see clearly that hospice has a different mandate even if, at times, they have to offer palliative sedations like high doses of morphine, that can result in a peaceful but slow death.

I am sorry that there is not yet a place for MAiD to happen outside patients’ homes in the Comox Valley. Unfortunately, all I can offer these patients is that they will seek spiritual care because they all need to be listened to, and they all need someone to cradle their soul and support their families.


Marie A. Dufour-Brose, retired chaplain