Mayor Abby Binay expands health services; offers hospice care for chronically ill residents
MANILA, Philippines — Makati Mayor Abby Binay said Friday her administration has expanded the city’s health services to include a special program for improving the quality of life of patients with serious and chronic illness.
The program will also provide psychosocial and spiritual support to their family members.
“We want to ease the suffering of residents with life-threatening and chronic diseases. Knowing how prolonged illness can take a toll on the well-being of family members, too, we have given priority to establishing palliative and hospice care as part of the city’s expanded health services,” Binay said.
The mayor announced the launch of the first phase of Palliative and Hospice Care Program (PHCP) at the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak), spearheaded by the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM).
“Through the PHCP, we will provide a support system for both the patient and their family to help them cope with multiple burdens they are carrying,” she said.
“We hope to make them feel they are not alone in facing a most difficult time in their lives,” she added.
The mayor expressed confidence in DFCM’s ability to effectively implement the program as it is an accredited training arm of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians.
She assured the PHCP team that the city government will continue to support them through palliative and end-of-life-care education and training in the form of seminars, workshops, home visit kits, and sensitizing sessions, among others.
She said the city will also soon pilot another feature of the program, the Home Hospice, in Barangay Southside, DFCM’s adopted barangay.
“Home Hospice will cater to the needs of terminally ill residents who are no longer responding to treatment. Its focus will be on providing comfort care and pain management for the patient, and counseling and moral support for the family until bereavement,” the mayor said.
Recently, the PHCP Outpatient Clinic started operations at the Ambulatory Medicine Complex of OsMak. It is open Monday and Friday to cater to Makatizens needing palliative and hospice care.
The PHCP renders in-patient services when it receives referrals from other departments for services needed by patients confined at the hospital, such as pain and symptom control, counseling and psychosocial support, transition care from hospital to home, and end-of-life care.
OsMak medical director Dr. Vergel Binay said the PHCP is multidisciplinary. Holistic care is delivered by medical, nursing and allied health care providers, including social workers in a collaborative fashion. The goals of care are always aligned even if each team member has a different role, he explained.
All members of the multidisciplinary team are required to write their assessments and treatment plans in the charts of the patients, write entries for every in-patient visit, and also contribute to the overall discharge instructions.
Once a patient in the ward is referred to the program, he will be visited by the PHCP committee head with the resident rotator, who will co-manage his case with the attending physician until discharge.
Dr. Binay said a family meeting is conducted to discuss and clarify the patient’s and the family’s understanding of the disease, its natural course and prognosis, and deliberate on treatment issues towards comfort care.
Quality of life
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing challenges presented by life-threatening ailments.
It said palliative care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms, affirms life, and regards dying as a normal process. It intends neither to hasten or postpone death; integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care; offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death; and offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their bereavement.
Moreover, it uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counseling, if indicated. It will enhance the quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness.
Palliative care is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to understand better and manage distressing clinical complications.
Hospice care is provided when a patient no longer responds to curative treatments and may have six months or less to live. It is designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focuses on making the patient comfortable and free of pain.
The Palliative and Hospice Care Program of Makati is part of the expanded public health services Binay has vowed to pursue the benefit of Makatizens.
Other health-related initiatives include the continuing modernization of OsMak and the upcoming establishment of Urgent Care in the city’s barangay health centers to provide immediate relief to injuries or other health conditions requiring immediate care but not serious enough to require treatment in an emergency room (ER). /ee
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