The outgoing president of St. Boniface Hospital Medical Staff is speaking out about the board’s recent decision not to allow medical assistance in dying – also known as MAID – to happen on site.

Dr. Marcus Blouw, a critical care and respirology physician at the hospital, had a position on the board as president of medical staff.

As a faith-based institution, the hospital allows patients to get an assessment for MAID, but will continue to require that the patient is transferred to a different facility to go through with the procedure.

“This is transferring people because of religious and ethical reasons not for medical necessity,” said Dr. Blouw. “It completely goes against everything we talk about to deliver patient centric health care.”

Dr. Blouw was on the board when it narrowly voted on May 29 to allow the procedure under “rare circumstances.”

“My personal thought was there was no way that was going to stick,” Dr. Blouw.

The Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba, which owns and operates St. Boniface Hospital, ordered a revote on the matter and added 10 members to the board.

Two weeks after the policy was voted in, the decision was overturned.

St. Boniface has had a palliative care program since 1974.

The hospital’s president and CEO has said the facility will make sure patient transfers for MAID happen in a safe and timely manner.

Dr. Blouw acknowledged patient transfers happen for a variety of reasons, but he said during the transfer and readmission process MAID patients will receive less palliative care.

“The people who suffer most are the patients,” he said.

The Provincial MAID Clinical Team which is designated to perform the procedure is equipped to provide services across Manitoba.

Dr. Blouw doesn’t see any reason why it can’t happen at St. Boniface.

“These services should be provided to all Manitobans with no strings attached,” said Dr. Blouw. “We are health care providers for Canadians, we should provide what Canadians feel they need.”

“If one patient suffers more than they need, more than they have to, for anybody to say this is only going to involve a small number of patients, I just don’t buy it.”