Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans has joined the growing list of Vermont hospitals choosing to opt out of participating in the new Physician Aid in Dying law (S.77), according to a column written by NMC CEO Jill Berry Bowen, published in the St. Albans Messenger on June 25 and available on the hospital’s website: http://www.northwesternmedicalcenter.org/legislative-questions-answers/will-nmc-participate-%E2%80%9Cphysician-aid-dying%E2%80%9D
“We were a bit surprised that the legislature chose to make the bill effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature,” Bowen wrote. “This compacted the time for decision making by creating time pressure for Vermont’s hospitals, healthcare facilities, and physicians to decide whether they would participate or not.” Despite this, Bowen said the hospital leadership team had been proactive in discussing the legislation and was able to come to a reasoned and firm decision to opt out.
“We did not find our community hospital to be the proper setting for administration of a lethal dose of medication,” Bowen wrote.
NMC Chief Planning Officer & Director of Community Relations Jonathan Billings said in a phone interview that, “A lot of people proactively reached out to us” to express their opposition to having the Hospital participate in assisted suicide. He acknowledged that Franklin County’s strong legislative opposition to the bill (only one Franklin County legislator voted in favor of it) also strengthened their position that, “This was just not right for us,” as a medical institution.
Kudos to Northwestern Medical Center.