Glenwood Springs’ Valley View Hospital opts in to Colorado’s end-of-life option

Valley View Hospital
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs will now participate in Colorado’s End-of-Life Options Act, after taking a year to seek some clarity in the state’s rule-making process that governs how the law approved by voters in November 2016 is to be implemented.

After the law giving terminally ill patients the right to pursue life-ending options was approved, Valley View and other area hospitals, including Grand River Health in Rifle and Aspen Valley Hospital, took a wait-and-see approach.

Aspen Valley has since decided to opt in, while Grand River’s governing board is expected to revisit the issue sometime this spring, according to hospital spokeswoman Annick Pruett.

In September 2017, the Valley View Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of the hospital’s medical staff to participate in the Act.

The decision allows physicians, pharmacists and other health-care providers employed with Valley View to choose to participate in the Act, although they are not obligated to do so, said Stacey Gavrell, Valley View’s chief community relations officer.

The decision also affirms the independence of qualifying patients to make their own decisions whether to end their life.

In agreeing to opt in, Valley View implemented additional policies for both healthcare providers and patients.

“The self-administration of the aid-in-dying medication on Valley View Hospital or Valley View outpatient premises will not be permitted,” according to a statement issued by the hospital on Wednesday. V”alley View has also determined that any patient requesting aid-in-dying-medication will be referred to a physician participating in the Act, if their attending physician does not.”

The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act went into effect on Dec. 16, 2016, allowing terminally ill adults to legally obtain a lethal dose of medication to voluntarily end one’s life. Participation by health care workers is also voluntary.

The Act lays out specific requirements for patients, medical facilities, and health-care providers who may choose to participate.

In March 2017, Valley View announced that it would opt out of the Act while additional information was obtained.

“Valley View and its medical staff support the autonomy of patients as well as their right to make informed choices about their care,” hospital officials said at the time. However, they added that, without a better understanding of how the new law was to be implemented in a way that protected patients, physicians and hospital staff, Valley View would exercise its right under the law not to participate.

The rule-making process that the state Legislature went through last year provided the clarity the hospital was seeking, Gavrell said.

The End-of-Life Act has specific requirements for both patients and physicians. Patients must meet several requirements, including a prognosis of six months or less to live, and mental capacity to make an informed decision. They must also have Colorado residency, and must have requested and obtained a prescription for the lethal medication.

“Valley View physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers who choose to participate must also adhere to specific requirements, pursuant to the Act,” according to the hospital’s statement.

The full text of the Act can here.

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