This week has been full of ups and downs at the Hospice. As some of you will have seen from my emails and Facebook updates, we are out of colostomy bags and this is a real dilemma. For many of our patients, they rely directly on these bags and for us to turn them away has been a real heartbreak for our medics. However, we have really had an answer to prayer and every day this week we have had patients' families coming into the office with their unused bags. Additionally, thanks to a friend of mine who works at the Scotsman in Edinburgh, we have had some great publicity in yesterday's edition of the paper which you can see here. Since then I have had emails from a couple of hospitals and from some of you who have suggested how we can get more. Thanks to all of you who have assisted and I hope I'll be coming back to Moldova in January with a case full of colostomy bags. Not sure if I'll manage to get through customs though without a bit of explaining....
We also found out this week that we received our accreditation to the House of Medical Insurance which is a big boost for the team and the Hospice. The team worked exceptionally hard to ensure we were meeting the right standards in the hospice and in our inspection assessment we only dropped 1 point. This is the first step to getting the Ministry of Health onboard to assisting with our funding. Palliative and hospice care is not recognised by the Ministry of Health here and we have been lobbying at the government and Parliament for this to be included on the national health. We are one step closer....
At the end of the week, I went out in the blizzards with Andrei and Polina, two of our medics, to visit some of our patients. We visited a 53 year old man with cancer of the intestine who lives in the country with his wife and daughter. Andrei had told me that this man was a bit of a hard nut in his day and was diagnosed in March with cancer. Since then he has deteriorated rapidly and when we arrived at his house it was a real struggle to see this man who was growing ever weaker struggle to even talk. He hasn't been eating and only drinks a bit of water a day. I asked how he could survive like this and Andrei said that at this stage, they recommend that the patients should not eat. It didn't occur to me until later when Andrei told me that it was likely that the man would probably slip into a coma later that day and he would be dead by Monday. When Andrei delivered this news to the man's wife and daughter, they didn't seem upset and I later asked Andrei why. He said that they have become used to the fact that this man, a husband and father, will lose his battle with cancer very soon. This was a really humbling moment and it was then that I realised that these doctors and nurses see this pain and suffering every day and that the work they do is so important. And to have to deliver news like this to someone's loved ones must be the hardest thing. Without Hospice Angelus and our fantastic medics, there would be more people living their last days in severe pain and discomfort. The latest figures show that 8000 people die in Moldova every year from cancer and this year we have worked with 400 patients. It's a small fraction and I can't help think of the thousands of others who do not have access to proper hospice care like we do in the UK, Europe and the West.
Here are some pictures of our doctors, including Andrei, working with our patients which we use on our website and in our presentations. Some of them are no longer with us, but it is comforting to know that they died with the minimum amount of pain with real care.
|Andrei and Natalia, two of our doctors, consult an elderly patient in her home|
|A young patient with her mother at the Oncology Hospital|
|We treat many children at the Oncology Hospital|
|How can you not love a face like this?|
As I prepare to go home for Christmas and see some of you, I would like to remind you that the Hospice still needs help - both financial and medical - so if you would like to organise an event, make a donation or can help us out in any way, catch me when I'm home or drop me an email. Your efforts are so appreciated and believe me when I say that they CAN make a difference.