Millions are dying. It’s a fact of life. Our responsibility, as Jesus describes it, is to “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Medical professionals call this specialized medical care Palliative Care. Specifically, palliative care focuses on comfort for patients with chronic medical conditions, while continuing treatment for their conditions. Hospice care is then extended to patients who are terminally ill without possibility of curative treatment; medical care-givers then offer treatments that will improve their comfort.
At Memorial Christian Hospital, doctors, medics, nurses, and nurse aides unite in care for patients of all ages and their family members. Young patients on MCH’s wards have play and activities available so that they can renew their focus on creative expression. Our medical staff and social workers do not only cure diseases; they also look after people with incurable illnesses, relieving their suffering and supporting them through difficult times; they, too, counsel and comfort concerned family members.
Palliative Care includes sympathetic listening, honest communication, and changed focus which improve our patients’ quality of life, even to the end of life. Our care-givers offer hope and peace and love.
Here in Bangladesh, current access to palliative care and pain treatments is less than 1%. However, statistics also show that there are 200,000 new cancer patients yearly, and at any given time 600,000 people need palliative care. We must acknowledge this need and act on it!
Think of our elderly friend, Ahmed. When his grown sons brought him to Memorial Christian Hospital, he was in the advanced stages of throat-cancer. Truly no surgery could solve his problem. Our doctor sat with his sons and carefully explained the diagnosis. His sons were thankful to be aware of his deteriorating condition and that his days were limited. (Some doctors in Bangladesh do not talk about this.)
Ahmed was admitted to our hospital care, but our medical team was limited in what they could do. Even so, they offered pain medication and loving words. Ahmed’s voice was now hoarse and quiet, but he explained to his doctor that he wanted to go home. Our doctor held his hand gently and nodded. Together they prayed to our Life-giver. Our pharmacy department gathered the best of pain-relief medicines, and his sons took their father home for his final days.
Though no longer at MCH, our medical team listened for updates on Ahmed and encouraged his family in how to best care for him. They offered his family members counsel and love. The family held a feast one day- an open house to come visit with Ahmed and have a meal. Ahmed’s doctor was thankful to be able to go and see him in his home, surrounded by family and friends. The doctor again was able to go over his medicines with the family. We all knew his life was in God's hands. The family was at peace keeping him at home; they knew they had done all they could for him.
Palliative care provides patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.
May we love with growing insight, because we know that love never fails.
-submitted April, 2017