“Hospice at home”

Rare for our region palliative service that helps seriously ill patients live the rest of their life with dignity operates in Vynogradiv today. Hospice ward, as well as Advisory Service for palliative care or "hospice at home",  operates on the basis of the local hospital.

Hospice ward in Vynogradiv was created for grant funds from one of the European NGOs. Director of Municipal Enterprise "Agency for Regional Development of Vynogradiv District" Volodymyr Shevchuk said that the very idea of ​​a hospice in the district appeared a long time ago, but they could not find the money. The Agency was able to find the money and implement this program. Today, in the hospital operates a department of palliative care for 4 beds: 2 male and 2 female. Conditions in the ward are at an extremely high level of quality: medical furniture, ECG apparatus, electric pumps, oxygen generator, appliances, and most importantly – multyfunctional beds with remote control and mattress for preventing pressures sores. According to Mr. Volodymyr, once the ward started working they saw that there is a need for a mobile service that can assist patients at home.

So, "hospice at home" service was started on June 1 last year. 

During this time Vynogradiv physicians assisted 29 patients, and are currently working with 6 patients.     

Every day a patient is visited by two orderlies and a nurse. They wash the patients, make their beds, give injections, put a drip, and so on. Also, at least once a week, the doctor comes to see the patient.     By the way, relatives of the sick person are also taught a proper care.  

People who need the help of service workers, are selected by family doctors, as they work on the stations, so they know the situation and which patients need the professional help. "For the most part we take care of the patients, who are diagnosed with cancer, also we have patients with stroke, and patients with rheumatoid arthritis. That is lying, incurable patients, people with limited life expectancy are our wards," – said Nataliya Ilyash.  
Director explains, that such people should be treated as normal patients, i.e. one has to completely forget about the fact that their life is coming to an end. In fact, it is difficult to imagine how hard and exhausting this work is.    

By the way, hospice workers receive the same salary as nurses at hospital, no allowances are provided. Now, unfortunately, it is this system of payment that is set forth by the Ukrainian medical legislation. 

We want to be the best at the border

But there are much better rewards, especially if they are unexpected. Recently Volodymyr Shevchuk suggested to survey and interview relatives of those who have died, in order to identify possible shortcomings in service. But the comments were beyond expectations. "I thank the people in white coats. For their sensitivity, good heart, for their help. God protect them, give them health and happiness" – writes an old woman, whose husband the service workes once have taken care of. Or take the following lines: "We have no suggestions, because the staff is picked up very well. All of them provided quality medical care, and most importantly, inspired hope in our sick father. In the days of their arrival, he carefully prepared for the meeting, and after a visit long had high spirits, it seemed that at that moment he forgot about the disease. Thank you for everything." 

Nataliya Ilyash notes that they did not even hope for such a reaction. After all the service is young, so first of all they expected for constructive criticism or helpful comments and tips. Instead they received sincere gratitude and, more importantly, the first assessment of what they do.  

Not long ago the team had their own psychologist who really helped both patients and their relatives, as well as the health workers. But, unfortunately, after the pilot project has come to an end and the service has become part of the hospital, he doesn’t work there more: the psychologist position is not in the staff of the institution. For now, employees of "Hospice at home" are actively assisted by priests.  

As explained by Volodymyr Shevchuk, the practices of Vinogradiv hospital on the development of palliative care are used to develop this sphere throughout the state.  "We are laying the theoretical and practical base. Trailblazers always have hard times, but with this team it is much easier to overcome difficulties," – said Mr. Volodymyr. 

"Our ultimate goal is to create a regional center of palliative care. Now this is not just a dream. We have found the funds to implement this idea: they were provided by European organizations".   
Finally, I want to note that the word "hospice" etymologically has nothing to do with death. The Latin word «hospes» originally meant "guest." Because the first establishments were located along the roads, which were the main routes of the Christian pilgrims. They were sort of care houses for malnourished or sick people. That, probably, is the most accurate explanation of what Vynogradiv doctors do: take care of travelers who briefly stopped to rest before the long road … 

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