Assisted Suicide Advocate Heads Up Palliative Care in Vermont

Bioethics   Steven Ertelt   Mar 23, 2011   |   6:44PM    Montpelier, VT

Porter Medical Center proudly announced their new “Partners in Palliative and Home Care” practice staffed with Diana Barnard, MD and Will Porter, MD in the summer of 2009.

The August press release quoted Dr. Barnard, “For the people of our community, expanded access to coordinated high-quality palliative care can help facilitate greater personal autonomy and control over their care and treatment choices and bring a degree of humanity and sensitivity to illness-related emotional, psychological and spiritual issues that otherwise might get lost in the delivery of traditional medical treatment.”

Dr. Barnard is a strong advocate for assisted suicide, and has been for many years.

In a January 2007 Burlington Free Press article she stated, “Many, if not most, physicians find it hard to accept the fact that, despite their greatest efforts, a patient under their care will die. When their treatments are no longer effective, they see this as failure on their part. They display the same, if not more, reticence to discuss the reality of dying as does the public at large. And as a consequence, they may not be fully responding to the needs and wishes of their dying patient.”

In a March 2005 New York Times article, Dr. Barnard was interviewed and identified as a core member of Death With Dignity Vermont (now known as Patient Choices at End of Life, Inc.). Patient Choices recently featured Dr. Barnard as one of three panelists speaking in support of H.274 – the physician assisted suicide bill currently being considered in Montpelier. The forum took place on March 3rd at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater.

According to Porter Medical Center’s Annual Report 2010, Dr. Barnard serves on the board of directors of Porter Hospital and at Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center (nursing home) where she is also their Medical Director. In addition, she is a board member of Hospice Volunteer Services of Addison County. And according to Patient Choices (patientchoices.org), Dr. Barnard is their board member too.

The day after the event at Town Hall Theater, Porter’s nursing home announced a new “Hospice Room” as the latest step in their “culture change”. The new room is only part of the overall delivery of hospice care, which is described as “a program of palliative and supportive care services providing physical, psychological, social and spiritual care for dying persons, their families and loved ones.”, stated Porter’s press release.