Duma, a former General Motors transmission plant worker, and his wife, Ana-Cornelia, moved to Alberta to find work three years ago after the plant closed. Last April, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and started treatment in a Fort McMurray hospital. His condition was rapidly deteriorating and a doctor suggested he come back to Windsor to live out his final days with family.
But Duma’s wish to die at home was complicated by Ontario’s three-month waiting period for palliative care coverage at home through Community Care Access Center. If he was placed in a Windsor hospital there would be no wait and everything would be covered. But that wasn’t the case with home care.
MPP Lisa Gretzky is hoping to change that with Dan’s Law, a bill eliminating the waiting period for home and community care.
“If someone is in the hospital for end-of-life care all expenses are paid,” she said. “It only makes sense that the person should be allowed to do the same at home. We are just trying to close that gap.”
Duma’s daughter, Laura, a nurse practitioner in Windsor, said because of the wait period Duma was not eligible for regular nurse visits to the house. He wasn’t eligible, either, for a personal support worker, which meant the family took turns bathing and dressing him.
“We did everything we could do to make it work for him,” Laura said. “But he was deteriorating quickly and soon the nausea and pain was more than we could manage at home.”
Laura thought because her dad had days to live, the wait period would be lifted. But it never happened.
“It’s sad there is a lot of discussion about dignity and dying,” she said. “They always talk about the how and when. But they need to also start talking about where.”
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