Vermonters reflect on five-year anniversary of the state's Medical Aid in Dying law.
Tom Ozahowski, is shown walking on a wooded trail near his Thetford home. He made his career at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire where he worked with patients who often stared death in the face.
"People have cardiac arrests and have near death experiences that, it's not everybody, but some of them have had profound situations that have helped me," he said those situations have helped him find peace with his fate.
"I was diagnosed in 2008," Ozahowski said regarding his prostate cancer, which has spread to his bones. "I have no idea exactly whats in store."h
The one thing he does know is how he plans on dying.
"My sons are totally in agreement that I can use Medical Aid in Dying and get a prescription to be self-administered," he said.
Dr. Diana Barnard, with the University of Vermont Medical Center, would like to see more Dartmouth-Hitchcock doctors on board.
The palliative care specialist said most of her patients worry about losing their sense of control, something many wish to gain using Act 39.
"Most people that I talk to don't want to die. They want to live, but they are dying from their underlying illness and we cant stop that," Board Member Dr. Diana Barnard said.
In the past five years, the state's Department of Health said 52 people have qualified to utilize the law, but only 29 people have chosen to end their lives.
"The law itself was really carefully crafted and is working very well," said PCV President Betsy Walkerman, also featured in the story.
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A Finished Heart by Eliot Cherry
PCV sponsored the presentation of an intimate one-act theater production as part of the recognition of the five-year anniversary of Vermont’s End of Life Choice Law (Act 39). We brought author, composer, and actor, Eliott Cherry here from Oregon to present his deeply personal story of love, life, and dying.
The three, hour-long performance, staged from May 17-19, 2018 brought audience members in touch with the universal experience of dying, amid humor and loving conversations at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Norwich, at the Shelburne Town Hall, and at Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph.
Eliott's performances prompted conversations about care giving, personal choices, and fundamental human connections. Each performance was followed by a discussion session, and PCV provided information about Vermont’s End of Life Choice Law (Act 39).