The award seeks to recognise individuals who epitomise the values of hospice and palliative care through their daily work. It honours palliative care pioneer Jean Echlin, a registered nurse who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of palliative care in Canada.
Outstanding individuals were nominated by their peers and colleagues. Kathy Matusiak, executive director at the deVeber Institute said: “When we announced the award we were overwhelmed with very positive responses… We are delighted that our goal has been accomplished, and our nominees range from nurses, medical doctors, bioethics specialists and advocates.”
The Jean Echlin Award for Ethics in Palliative Care went to Margaret Somerville, founding director of McGill’s centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, Samuel Gale Professor of Law and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine for her work as an advocate for palliative care and pain management and against euthanasia.
Dr Somerville was introduced as “a bold beacon in her academic work and the public sphere” in palliative care ethics. Dr Somerville’s good friend, Dr Tom Koch added that she could not be confined to one discipline, but rather that she would have that “we all stand for what we believe in the most informed way possible.”
Dr Somerville expressed her delight that the award was named after Jean Echlin. She spoke about her own work, noting that: “Unreasonable failure to treat pain, that is failure in pain management, is a fundamental breach of human rights.”
Dr Somerville introduced the concept of a “metaphysical ecosystem,” arguing firstly that this is in need of as much protection as the physical ecosystem, and secondly that current movements to legalise euthanasia constitute a dire threat to this delicate balance.
Kelly Hubbard received the award in the special category of ‘Outstanding Practitioner’ for her work as a nurse at the frontlines of palliative care provision and for her “outstanding levels of dedication, passion and perseverance.”
Jean Eichlin, joining the ceremony by speaker phone, added that she was: “Absolutely delighted that a nurse who has been and still is in the trenches of palliative care work is winning this award.”
Ms Hubbard noted that she was honoured to be standing alongside Dr Somerville to receive the award, and commented on the number and complexity of ethical issues faced by people working in palliative care.
Find out more about the deVeber Institute online.