WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has doubled the number of doctors working to meet patient demand in Manitoba for medically assisted dying.
The authority says 102 patients, or their families, had contacted the program as of Friday.
A clinical team that travels across the province now consists of seven physicians, three social workers and a speech pathologist.
The team is also looking to add to its two nurses.
Everyone works part time.
Dr. Brock Wright, vice-president and chief medical officer with the health authority, says interest has been increasing month over month across Manitoba.
“I think none of us know where the demand for this or where the interest for this service will level out," Brock said Tuesday. "It has obviously been increasing over the course of the year. We can’t predict what the numbers will be in the longer term, but will adjust as necessary and involve additional care providers as the need dictates."
Of the 102 individuals who have contacted the program, 24 received assistance and 18 cases were declined.
“Of the 18 patients that were declined, five of them had a mental illness as their underlying condition, and that precludes them from accessing the ... service. The other 13 patients had an underlying physical illness, but death was not foreseeable, which is one of the requirements in the federal legislation,” Wright said.
Fourteen cases remain active, 28 people died unassisted and 18 were inquiries only.
Anyone seeking assisted death must be assessed twice in person attended by two physicians. Both assessments must agree before medical help in dying is granted. A patient must also make a written request for a medically assisted death.
It must also be determined that death is reasonably foreseeable and that a patient is mentally competent to provide consent.
Medically assisted deaths became law in Canada last June.