Commissioners reject assisted suicide at OMC

Olympic Medical Center has voted to "opt out" of participation in Initiative 1000, the law that makes assisted suicide legal in Washington.

The hospital commissioners' decision on March 4 capped an often-impassioned period of public testimony, almost all of it against the Death with Dignity provision.

Commissioners Jean Hordyk, Arlene Engel, Jim Cammack and Jim Leskinovitch voted against the hospital's participation in I-1000. Commissioners John Beitzel and Gary Smith voted for participation.

The decision means only that OMC personnel cannot discuss assisted suicide with terminally ill patients except to tell them - if asked - that the option exists.

OMC staff still can counsel patients on I-1000 off medical center property, although that freedom can be deceptive.

Primary care doctors at Olympic Medical Physicians clinic on Eighth Street in Port Angeles, for instance, are covered by malpractice insurance only at the clinic and would be unlikely to participate in a Death with Dignity request without that protection.

The two persons who spoke for I-1000 out of 16 people making comments both were Sequim-area residents: Parkwood resident Milton Patrie and former Sequim City Councilor Don Hall.

Most of the audience of about 70 people left after the I-1000 vote and missed the resignation of OMC Commissioner Cindy Witham, who did not attend the meeting.

Witham defeated incumbent commissioner Dr. Jorgen Quistgaard for a term that would have expired in 2011.

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