INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE INC
June 21, 2010
Back in 2005 I contacted IAHPC for the first time asking for help to start palliative care attention at Instituto de CancerologÃa in Guatemala, the national center for Cancer reference. The IAHPC response was immediate and of great help! I was introduced to other physicians around the world and was able to establish a personal net for inter-consultation in Palliative Care that has lasted to the present date. A month later I received a donation from the IAHPC of about 12 books related with the discipline, including the Oxford textbook of Palliative Medicine, all of them were absolutely useful since there were not educational resources for palliative care in my country and I couldn`t have had access to any printed material in Guatemala. I kept constant contact with the IAHPC from the first time, during this time I let them know about the situation of palliative care in Guatemala, I was being a pioneer in this field. There were not palliative care services or phycisians. Being a pioneer was very exiting for me, it was challenging but also was a big responsibility I was learning the principles while I was helping a lot of Guatemalans to die with dignity and without pain... but I was alone there, I needed to learn and observe good palliative care practices since it was not a familiar concept in my country, where there are considerable stigmas about end of life care and pain relief. By Octoher 2005, I sent an application and received a grant from the IAHPC to assist as a Foreign Fellow to the Palliative Care Unit at the MD Anderson which was an experience that marked a point of departure for my practice in Palliative Care. The time I spent there was busy from 6:45 to 5:00 observing patients, revising articles, participating in rounds team discussions, investigation projects and integrated care with the Palliative Care team leaded by Dr. Eduardo Bruera. The daily activity was completed making rounds and home visits at the Houston Hospice with Dr. Susan Krauter, one of the physicians that the IAHPC introduced to me some months ago. Dr. Krauter hosted me in her home and was willing to share with me the principles around hospice and end of life care, two concepts that were new for me. I`m greatful with all of them for their mentorship and help in developing my skills in palliative care. That time changed my life! It opened my eyes and my heart to many other possibilities I never imagined... I was clear that I didn`t have all the resources in Guatemala as the ones I observed in the institutions that I visited, but now I had the "whole pizza" scenario of what palliative care meant to be, a model of excelency in clinical attention, Palliative Care investigation, advocacy and education. From the start to the end, each day was challenging, a learning experience and life changing. Many of the partners around the world that followed up my beginings in Palliative Care have been close to me all this time since then, during this 5 years have some of them became, close loyal and signigicant friends, we all share our passion and work in Palliative Care. After my first visit to MD Anderson and Houston Hospice, I have been in contact constantly with the people of IAHPC and have received the newsletter in a regular basis. Through the newsletter I`ve access to great palliative care resources, I personally used the "How To Start" guide to structure a palliative care service for my institution, our unit was born with a vision of growing up to become a center of high quality in palliative care for Guatemala. Through the IAHPC newsletters I became involved in more activities and received more help to assist to other palliative care events as the Pain Policies Studies International Fellowship where IÂ´m involved to eliminate the barriers for opioid access and availability in my country, a program that promotes the cooperative work between international experts, fellows and some of the local healthcare authorities in each country. I also applied to a period of clinical observation as an international fellow in Navarra, Spain, a scholarship support program that was created by cooperative partnership of IAHPC with other Palliative Care Associations in Latin America and Spain. I received the grant for that program and will be assisting in August and September 2010, to University Clinic of Navarra, with Dr. Carlos Centeno, one of the spanish pioneers in Palliative Care that worked to promote it as a speciality in Spain and Europe. Today, I`m completing an International Fellowship Program at San Diego Hospice, I was invited to apply to this program through the IAHPC. Nowadays, I am developing a Palliative Care Department in my hospital. My highest goal is high quality Palliative Care. I have started an education program that is now official for undergraduate medicine students. In 2007 I started a postgraduate education program for residents of internal medicine and anesthesiology that has been growing since October 2005, but still needs to be included in the official curriculum. Our team today counts with two physicians, two pshychologists a nurse and a social worker, we still work from the hospital and need to provide home based hospice as our next step. By the end of 2009 we attended 3,000 consultations, one third of them were new patients. I consult the IAHPC "Pallipedia" in a regular basis, and keep myself actualized with the articles and revisions that the IAHPC publishes. Also, I use the tools and resources for patient care provided by the IAHPC as the main source of referral to the students of medicine and residents that come to my department to receive education in palliative care. I live in an underdeveloped country, I work with the poorest population in Guatemala, with scarce resources from the government for palliative care. The generous, constant and consistent help I have received from IAHPC has been a blessing providing the finantial support that has allowed me to acquire professional education and periods of direct observation with recoginized authorities in this field, keeping me on the path of providing palliative care with the best standards of care according to my resources. There has been an important support for Guatemalan patients through my participation in all the educational activities in palliative care that where available for me through the contact with IAHPC. Each experience where I have became involved has helped me to develop new areas of attention in Palliative Care in Guatemala. One of the aspects that I really appreciate is the networking that the IAHPC offers among other palliative care professionals and institutions around the world, many of them, as I mentioned are now close and valuable fellows that share and follow our progresses in Guatemala. I also enjoy following up their work in their countries, this encourages me to go up my goals and provide palliative care based in our population needs. My devoted and sincere thanks to the IAHPC for all the support during this wonderful career as a pioneer in Palliative Care in Guatemala, I wish that the IAHPC could continue helping more nations, that as in my case start with an individual that provides palliative care in the middle of a huge population in need, scarce resources, and no education and development opportunities in their own countries
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Starting my personal education in Palliative Care, helping me to set standards of best quality in attention, investigation, education and advocacy for my daily practice.
IAHPC provided me with friends and colleagues, a real community support.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I would promote more funds for the IAHPC! I have been blessed receiving valuable help from IAHPC, but I know of many colleagues in other countries that deserve the same opportunities I had to develop better services for their patients.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
They stablish a consistent relationship with me from the very first time I consulted them! They offered me information, support through others and close follow up to my situation, their help was constant and significant.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
All of them have been always devoted to serve! During these years, they have demnostrated efficency in all the practical issues involved in their work, as well as ethical and cooperative relationships with the people that they work with.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
Develop a non profit organization to provide home based hospice services for Guatemalan cancer patients. I would also start an educational program in Palliative Care for Central American countries.
Ways to make it better...
My experience with the IAHPC has been the best!
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
There are huge needs regarding Palliative Care in the world, they need more funds to extend the help to more persons and more countries around the world.
One thing I'd also say is that...
It has been through the contact with the IAHPC that I have had access to more education opportunities to develop my work, they offer access to their valuable newsletter that promotes education, investigation and sharing opportunities.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every month
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & I founded a Palliative Care Service in a Cancer Hospital in Guatemala.