The Challenge of Covid-19 for Palliative Care

In Portugal, as in the world, the reallity is that the fight against Covid-19 is weakening Palliative Care. Many of the health professionals are taking care of patients with coronavirus, or working from home. Families aren’t allowed to visit their rellatives when they are in Palliative Care Units or in hospitals, goodbye is unsaid…
The Health Care System shouldn’t set aside Palliative Care, when they should be in the center and available for all that need them, including this new population with coronavirus - as it is said by the President of the Portuguese Palliative Care Association Duarte Soares.
Of what I see nowadays, a lot is done because health professionals believe in the importance of what they do, and put their hearts in to it, working overtime, being creative and not giving up to these challenges.

The same applies to Uganda service providers are taken up by the pandemic directing their energies towards and forgetting that palliative care patients immunity is already comprised which makes Covid a big threat .PPEs are a big issue for both service providers as well as patients

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Certainly sounds like a challenge Esther. How are you dealing with it?
It is a mixed bag in the US it seems. Some areas are a lot more affected than others. Some places have had the time to prepare and some places like New York had no time at all. They had to face the situation head on!

Oh yes even here some regions are affected than others but all in all we are all affected in one way or another
We have measures in place like hand washing , use of sanitizers which is alcohol based supplied by government in heàlth institutions and use of masks which are not easily accessible.
The public has been told to practice social distancing
For palliative care patients especially those for home visit we are able to walk to their homes after a phone call because the country has a lockdown no transport is allowed except government cars which are rendering essential services .some patients who are in far places its hard to reach them and refilling of drugs is a problem .
However once in a while we request for hospital van to reach them more so those in severe pain and oral morphine delivered
All my prayers is for stability of situation

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Thank you Esther. We are all certainly not able to do as much as we would like to for our patients for a variety of reasons. How is your team dealing with it? This is taking a toll on us too.

Thank you Esther, for all the work, you and your team are doing. It is challenging and I cannot even begin to imagine what you face. How are you and your team doing?

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Dora, I couldn’t agree with you more, palliative care is essential in the midst of this pandemic. But I am also happy to see so many creative ways that we are still able to reach people. How are you and your team doing?

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Nina, our palliative care team is hospital based, and we usually do consultations in our space, and visit other services to help the patients, their families and health professionals. And also, we articulate with the health teams in the community.
But rapidly, the hospital has become a receiver of patients with Covid-19, with some health professionals contaminated, so we had to reorganize and work from home. In some urgent situations we return to our service to do essential techniques for the control of symptoms.
Mostly, we are trying to help the patients and families by phone and we continue to articulate with the community. And other professionals keep contacting with us. It is strange because now we have new patients, and we talk hours by phone, and exchange emails, but we never met. But the main feedback is that the patients and families are grateful that we continue to support them, and know that they can call us when they need.
In the beginning of May we probably will be returning gradually to the hospital. We are discussing and organizing how to do it in a safe way for all.

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I am so glad you are your team are still being able to take care of patients, even if it means over the phone. I am sorry you cannot see them in person, but I hope that maybe some telemedicine can help so that you can at least see faces. But even just hearing the voice of someone like you and your team that cares and is there to support on all levels, especially when things get complicated, scary and serious, it is priceless… thank you. I know my team feels the same.

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