January 18, 2018 12:11 pm

Medically-assisted death will not be performed at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in N.S.

Medical assistance in dying will not be performed at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S.

Cory McGraw/Global News

St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish is the only hospital in Nova Scotia that will not perform medically-assisted dying.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says there are some health care facilities across the country which operate under memorandums of understanding with the religious organizations that originally owned them. Respecting the history of faith-based hospitals, there are agreements in place to not perform medical assistance in dying (MAID) at those sites.

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In Nova Scotia, St Martha’s Regional Hospital operates under one of these agreements.

READ: Assisted-dying in Canada: What you need to know about the new law

A Mission Assurance Agreement was developed in 1996 as the ownership of St. Martha’s Regional Hospital was transferred from the Sisters of St. Martha to the province of Nova Scotia.

The health authority says the agreement was made to ensure that the philosophy, mission and values of St. Martha’s would remain the same and the hospital would keep its faith-based identity.

READ MORE: Doctor-assisted death: The recommendations vs. reality

The health authority says they work with all patients as participants in their own care and will continue to respect and respond to their needs and requests as a service provider in the health system.

Under the law, no health care practitioner can be compelled to participate in a medically-assisted death.

WATCH: Life, Death and the Law: Families making end-of-life decisions

If an inpatient at St Martha’s Regional Hospital requests MAID and is eligible for the service, the patient and family will work with the MAID doctor on an arrangement that best meets the family’s need outside of the St. Martha’s facility.

The patient may be transferred to a nearby facility or the procedure may take place at home.

A spokesperson for the health authority says they were not aware if anyone has officially requested MAID at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital.

READ MORE: Drug used for assisted deaths in other countries now available in Canada

Since it became available in Nova Scotia in June 2016, 46 people have received MAID service.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2017 the Nova Scotia Health Authority reports they received 64 referrals to the MAID service and 23 procedures were completed.  The average age of those who received MAID was 68.

Cancer was the most common reported underlying condition, followed by neuro-degenerative, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The health authority says the 41 people who did not complete the procedure either withdrew their request, lost capacity or died before receiving MAID, or were in process at the time of the report.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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