To the People

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Canadian Healthcare Offers Final Solutions

The case of Samuel Golubchuk, an 84 year-old man on life-support, has been called the Canadian version of the Terri Schiavo controversy. That's hardly accurate though since his family is united in the belief that they want him to live. Moreover there's little doubt that Golubchuk himself would prefer to hang around since as an Orthodox Jew, his religion prohibits suicide.

So who's trying to pull the plug on the old guy? His doctors at the Canadian health care system:

An Orthodox family's fight to keep their 84-year-old father on life support against the wishes of a Winnipeg hospital will go to trial.

Winnipeg judge Perry Schulman ruled Wednesday that, under current Canadian law, doctors should not have "the final say" and ordered the case to trial.

In the meantime, Samuel Golubchuk, an Orthodox Jew, will remain on life support at Grace Hospital, connected to a feeding tube and ventilator he has needed since November. At the time, doctors decided to remove the patient from life suport, against the wishes of the family, who got an injunction from Schulman to prevent the action.

Doctors say Golubchuk has minimal brain function and that his chances for recovery are slim.

But his adult children argue that taking their father off of life support goes against their faith. They say hastening their father's death is a violation of Orthodox Jewish law.

The position of the Canadian health care system can be summed up as "Screw what the family wants. We make the life and death decisions around here.":

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Grace General Hospital each acted in what they believed were the best interests of the patient and will be reviewing the decision of the court, the WRHA said in a formal statement.

"Decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatments are never easy and are not made lightly by medical experts ... The (WRHA) and the Grace continue to have confidence in the integrity and competence of our physicians and health care professionals."

Here's a crazy idea: Why not keep the old geezer on life support and then send his family the hospital bills? Or is allowing "choice" to grab a foothold in the world of socialized medicine just too radical of a notion?

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