Winnipeg woman who chose to die with medical help said battle for home care help lead to decision Pipa News

Winnipeg woman who chose to die with medical help said battle for home care help lead to decision

Sathya Dhara Kovac, 44, chose to die this week even though she didn’t want to go yet.

The death of the woman from Winnipeg was facilitated by professionals through Manitoba’s Medical Assistance at the Dying Program.

Kovac lived with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative disease that cost her mother, grandmother and uncle. Her condition worsened, but she felt she had more to live—just not enough home care support to do that.

“Ultimately, it wasn’t a genetic disease that took me out, it was a system,” Kovac wrote in an obituary to loved ones.

“Change is urgently needed. That is the disease that causes so much suffering. Vulnerable people need help to survive. I could have had more time if I had more help.”

On Monday morning, support worker and friend Shayla Brantnall rubbed Kovac’s head as she took her last breath at home in her conservatory, surrounded by a small group of people and things that brought her comfort — a photo of her dog, candles, crystals.

But according to Kovac’s own obituary, statements she made to the Winnipeg Free Press, and things she shared with friends, she’d been exhausted by her failed attempts to get more help with basic needs at home, which was why she got access. to medical assistance in the event of death.

“It’s hard because she was there mentally… She accepted the changes in her body, but how could anyone carry on without enough support?” said Brantnall, who has been supporting Kovac three days a week for the past year and a half.

“You’re constantly stressed, you’re constantly struggling, like, ‘How am I going to go to the bathroom? How am I going to eat?’ That’s not really a great quality of life either.”

Kovac died Monday on this cedar bench in the conservatory of her home. She lived with ALS and suffered a medically assisted death, although friends say she only went through the process because of barriers she faced as she tried to get adequate home care support. (Submitted by Janine LeGal)

Kovac lived alone at home with her dog. She didn’t want to give that up to live in an institution, her friend Janine LeGal said.

She said Kovac had not told the panel of professionals reviewing her application for a medically assisted death that she had been forced to seek GIRL due to a lack of adequate home care support, fearing they would refuse her if she shared her full reasoning.

“Her death was imminent in the sense that she had ALS, so that would have killed her at some point, but…she could have been there for several more years and lived a good life,” LeGal said.

“It’s really painful for me to think about the fact that she’s gone because our society isn’t about giving people what they need.”

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said alternative supports are being explored before granting MAID to applicants.

Applicants must have “serious and incurable illness, illness or disability, an advanced state of deterioration that is irreversible and causes intolerable suffering,” the health authority said in a statement. It confirmed that Kovac met the eligibility criteria.

Kovac received 55 hours of home care per week. As her condition worsened over the past five months, LeGal says her needs have increased.

It was suggested to Kovac to seek home care assistance beyond what was provided to her through the public system, but she was unable to afford the additional costs, LeGal said.

Kovac and her dog. (Submitted by Janine LeGal)

In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press published after her death, Kovac said the county and the ALS Society recommended that she receive round-the-clock care if she moved to the Riverview Health Center. Kovac said she preferred to stay at home and that she knew others who died shortly after entering long-term care.

Kovac felt humiliated by the process of asking for and not getting adequate home care, LeGal said.

“She cared about neighbors and people and the community and she wanted others to do the same, and sometimes they didn’t. So she was really hurt by that.”

Information Radio – MB9:45 amSathya Dhara Kovac chose to die with medical attention this week even though she didn’t want to go yet

Her boyfriend with ALS chose to die Monday because she didn’t feel she had enough home care to continue — and now Winnipegger Janine LeGal is bringing her friends’ message about the need for more support

Manitoba’s opposition NDP leader said Kovac’s experience underscores the need for more investment in home health services.

“She didn’t have the right home health services,” Wab Kinew said during Question Time on Tuesday, asking Prime Minister Heather Stefanson what her progressive conservative government is doing to solve home health care in Manitoba.

Stefanson said Scott Johnston, Secretary of State for Senior Citizens and Long-Term Care, is looking at innovating and improving home care, including how to address staff shortages.

“We recognize that there is more work to be done,” Stefanson said. “That’s exactly why we founded the Ministry of Seniors.”

Nancy Hansen, a professor at the University of Manitoba and director of the university’s interdisciplinary master’s program in disability studies, says MAID is “kind of a simplistic solution to something that requires more creative thinking.” (Submitted by Nancy Hansen)

Nancy Hansen, a professor and director of the interdisciplinary master’s program in disability studies at the University of Manitoba, said the case highlights serious issues with how people with disabilities gain greater access to medically assisted death.

Before February, when MAID was expanded to include people with disabilities, an applicant had to face “imminent” death, Hansen said.

“I don’t understand why society is so eager to view death as dignified as related to disability, and yet a society will not provide people with the proper means to live a dignified life,” said Hansen, who is disabled.

“We as a society provide funding for the elements we value, and it seems to me that there is a lack of dignity and a lack of value placed on disability,” she said.

Hansen said that medically assisted death is “kind of a simplistic solution to something that requires more creative thinking.”

LeGal says she regrets not launching a more vigorous advocacy campaign for her boyfriend sooner.

“I feel like her voice wasn’t heard,” LeGal said. “She taught me a lot about the value of life.”

Janine LeGal says her boyfriend Kovac, pictured, felt humiliated by the process of asking for and not getting adequate home care. “She cared about neighbors and people and the community and she wanted others to care about them too, and sometimes they didn’t. So she was really hurt by that.’ (Submitted by Janine LeGal)

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