Health | Palliative Care: Comfort Beyond Prescription

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Are you aware about palliative and hospice care? Do you know that it exists in a hospital or a chronic care facility? Have you seen or even experienced such a service?

Perhaps many will attribute it to care for the dying or the more usual association with cancer stricken patients. However, palliative and hospice care is one that covers a very broad spectrum, collaborative in nature, holistic in approach and involves processes before an individual approach end of life.

Truly, it is quite a challenging opportunity to learn about health care system per se. More so, of the health care system that we have. From the basics to terminologies to specialization, it is flocked with knowledge that can truly open one’s understanding of the same. Add to that the many other sub-specialties wherein palliative medicine is involved.

Death is inevitable. Of how and when, the answer remains a mystery even to the most intuitive of being. Before the end, there are stages, phases and processes that an individual will experience — including significant others that can verily affect one’s quality of life.

As a nurse, I can attest to such experiences. Usually, patients will undergo DABDA or the stages of coping with the idea of dying. DABDA is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. All of which involves psychosocial intervention with the family.

These processes entail not only of psychosocial aspect but also, pain management while undergoing such ordeal. This is where palliative medicine comes in – the need to attend on biomedical aspect with psychosocial support.

The month of October, as set forth by the Medicine Division of Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), is known as the Palliative and Hospice Care Awareness Month. The movement is headed by Dr. Rojim Sorrosa. This is in line with the celebration of the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

Dr. Sorrosa and his team are the change agents that help promote the services and help patients feel liberation from pain. Their division is very proactive and extends an extra mile for the patients.
It has been stereotyped that palliative care is received mainly by patients with cancer. As discussed by Dr. Sorrosa, cancer is represented well with palliative care but not exclusive to it.

Palliative care is, in reality, an approach that can be given to any patient suffering from life threatening and serious diseases. It may involve patients with burns, those with upcoming surgery, with chronic diseases like kidney disease, individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, severe head injuries, vehicular accident, trauma, and other cases from the pediatrics, nursery, internal medicine, neurologic and even dermatology department.

Yes, palliative care can be applied to many cases in the hopes of alleviating one’s level of anxiety by giving comfort to patients and families as they undergo stages and phases together.

The palliative and hospice care is not a new practice in the medical and allied health field. Only that, here in the Philippines, the program is not yet a national mandate through the Department of Health.

Said to be an underutilized strength in our health care system, truly there is a need for this to be applied and maximized.

Yes, we can produce the best health workers for the world to know but there is also a need for the best in our community. Their presence will help the community be equipped with better coping mechanism in terms of inevitable circumstances. In the process, it will also help families experience quality of life despite the situation.

The task is not easy. Likened to a ministerial job, it deals with patients experiencing pain and coming in to terms with end of life. It involves courage, patience and the determination to forego negativity amidst the situation. There is even a need for oriented volunteers or allied health workers to help families needing hospice and palliative care in the community.

As a nurse, I hope that in the future, it will be realized that a chronic care facility in every municipal or city through district hospitals or health centers is needed. Just like what Dr. Sorrosa said, “The real success indication of this is when the system is embedded in Department of Health, insurances, microfinances…”. It may be a very ambitious thing but there really is a need that must be realized. Indeed, Palliative Care Because I (we) Matter.
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