Alberta professor accuses Catholic-run Covenant Health of evicting patients requesting suicide

Alberta professor accuses Catholic-run Covenant Health of evicting patients requesting suicide

The State
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[CBC News] A Covenant Health policy that allows the Catholic health provider to force patients from its facilities for their medical-assistance-in-dying assessments infringes on a patient’s right to safe and appropriate care, a University of Alberta law professor says.

VIDEO: [Catholic Answers] What Is The Catholic Position On Physician Assisted Suicide? [2017]

Prof. Ubaka Ogbogu, an expert in public health law, offered that opinion in response to a CBC News investigation that revealed a 66-year-old Edmonton ALS patient was forced to have an assessment on the sidewalk after Covenant Health abruptly revoked permission for her to have it on Covenant property.

“To say you can’t receive that [on-site assessment] as a patient, I think is just flat-out wrong,” said Ogbogu, who sits on the Council of Canadian Academies’ expert panel on medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Ogbogu said if necessary the Alberta government must force Covenant Health to abandon its current policy, which he said creates legal liability for the province and is “terrible” for patients and their families.

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman was not available for an interview. In an emailed statement, she said Covenant Health had assured her a similar situation would not happen again, and she invited feedback from Albertans whose relatives have gone through the MAID process.

Like many Catholic health providers across Canada, Covenant Health refuses to facilitate medical assistance in dying for religious reasons. The provincial government has exempted the publicly funded organization from having to provide those services.

But Covenant Health’s MAID policy extends beyond its refusal to allow medically assisted deaths in its facilities. The health provider’s default position is that its patients also cannot undergo on Covenant Health property the two Alberta Health Services (AHS) assessments necessary to determine if they legally qualify for the procedure.

Assisted-death discussion held on street

Covenant can — and has — allowed on-site assessments by AHS staff in “exceptional circumstances” that take into account the medical fragility of the patient.

Its policy, however, is equivocal: Even if a patient is “extremely medically fragile” and is unable to stop treatment or be transferred without risk of harm, Covenant Health still only “might” allow the patient to be assessed on its property. The policy is not set to be reviewed for another two years.

This article continues at [CBC News] Alberta government must quash Covenant Health assisted-dying policy, professor says

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