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A compassionate Ottawa supports and empowers individuals, their families and their communities throughout life to live well and to die and grieve well.

By Zi-Ann Lum

"OTTAWA — In the thick of the pandemic, Dr. Paul Hacker drafted a palliative care plan to manage a patient’s physical and emotional pain that his grandchildren were going to forget about him after he was gone. The man was dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — more commonly known as ALS or 'Lou Gehrig’s disease' — a terminal condition that has no cure. Separated by physical distancing rules, backyard visits were arranged so that the grandfather and his grandchildren, ages three, eight and 10, could enjoy each other’s presence from a two-metre distance.

"Hacker, an Ottawa-based palliative care physician, said it was 'very hard' for the man, whose ALS was progressing rapidly, to maintain physical separation from his grandchildren. Video chats were organized and, in between calls, the patient made scrapbooks and prepared messages so the kids could remember him."

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