Health Care Industry Prepares for New Assisted Suicide Law in Hawaii

In his 29 years as chief executive officer of Hospice Maui, LaGoy said he has often heard incoming patients talk about wanting to end their lives early because they imagine all the suffering that lies ahead. But he said that two big things usually happen in hospice care — first, hospice addresses most of the symptoms, “and the fears of the suffering simply don’t materialize,” LaGoy said. Second, when a patient and family learn to face death head-on in a supportive environment, they experience immense personal growth.

“The time that the person was afraid would be an awful time . . . turns out to be one of the most rich and powerful times of their whole life, and they wouldn’t want it to end,”LaGoy said. “Because there is deepened intimacy of connection with family members, a deepened appreciation for the overall trajectory of their life that they get to reflect upon.”

…There are some Maui physicians who have no mixed feelings about the law. Dr. Andrew Kayes said he is “adamantly against it.”

“If you think suicide is wrong, you should think physician-assisted suicide is wrong,”said Kayes, the medical director of Maui Diagnostic Imaging.

As a radiologist, Kayes said he likely wouldn’t get a request from a patient, but if he did, he would first find out why.

“I would ask, ‘Why would you want to end your life?’ “ Kayes said. “If they say, ‘Because I’m in pain,’ there’s good ways to manage pain. If they say, ‘I’m sad, I’m scared,’ there’s good ways to manage that. I would look them in the eye and say, ‘I know you’re in pain. I know you’re scared. We got this. We’re going to do this together.’ “

Kayes said he believed providing people with hospice care would be true “death with dignity,” as opposed to giving them some pills so they could end their lives. He said letting a patient do so would abandon the Hippocratic Oath he swore as a young medical graduate to “do no harm” and to never give poison to anyone if asked.

Read more at the Maui News…

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