Help Increase Transparency in Hospice Care

The organization Save Secular Healthcare WA is working to ensure that WA residents who are considering hospice care have information about Death with Dignity. Currently there are four religious organizations applying to provide hospice care in Spokane County and we need your support in ensuring that they declare their policies on DWD. Below is a letter from SSH explaining the situation with a request to add names of supporters to a letter to the WA Department of Health. Please consider sending an email to savesecularhealthcarewa@gmail.com.

Did you know that in WA, there are hospitals and hospice programs under the purview of some faith-based organizations that flat-out prohibit any activity related to Death with Dignity (DwD) including educating patients about their options? As we have continued to learn more about the impact of religious doctrine on hospice care, we have elected to press the WA Department of Health to ensure that Washingtonians have access to hospice services that will honor patient requests related to DwD. We have three goals in this area: 

·        Ensure that the proportion of hospice programs in every county that offers DwD services reflects the percentage of Washingtonians that voted in support of the DwD Act (60%).

·        Ensure that every hospice program has a written policy clearly describing its stance on DwD.

·        Ensure that every hospice program advises every in-coming patient about their rights to information about DwD. 

To this end, we are asking that all hospice providers applying to offer new services in WA be required to reveal their Death with Dignity policies prior to approval. We aren’t asking that only providers with policies that support Death with Dignity be approved, just that the process be representative of the wishes of WA voters and transparent.

In 2021, we requested public hearings for King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties. Our efforts resulted in the WA Department of Health adding Death with Dignity policies to the list of suggested documents to be included in applications. Additionally, a new condition was added to each of the approved applications which reads. “[Name of applicant] must adhere to the requirements in Revised Code of Washington 70.245.190 for its [Name] County services.” Revised Code of Washington 70.245.190 states that entire health care organizations may prohibit physicians practicing on their premises from prescribing lethal medications under the Death with Dignity Act, provided the organization requires this of all physicians and the organization notifies the public.  

This year we are requesting public hearings for Certificate of Need hospice applications submitted in Spokane County, likely in early May. Here is what we need now:

* Volunteers willing to have their names added to a letter that will be submitted by us to the WA Department of Health Certificate of Need office for four hospice applicants in Spokane County.

To do this, please send an email to savesecularhealthcarewa@gmail.com to let us know you are interested. Please include the name of the city/town where you live and mention that you are volunteering for the Spokane County letter. That’s all you need to do at this point. 

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