By Wendy Jane Carrel
FASEC (Fundacion al Servicio del Enfermo de Cancer/Foundation Serving Those Ill with Cancer), together with Care Partners International of Washington state, and the University of San Francisco, Quito, hosted a palliative care training session in Spanish for five days, April 20 – 24, the first in a series of four trainings for physicians, nurses, psychologists, volunteers, and others. The well-attended event drew healthcare workers from Cuba, Cuenca, Europe, Mexico, and the U.S.
David Small, PhD, former medical missionary in Ecuador and President of Care Partners International, stated the goals of the seminars are “to provide training for physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers in this philosophy of medical care, to benefit patients, to educate the general population as to the value of palliative care, and, to establish a palliative care program in Cuenca with FASEC that will eventually be self-sustaining.”
The main speaker was Dr. Susana Lua Nava, a highly regarded Mexican educator and nun who teaches throughout Mexico and at UAG (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara). She runs a hospice, Juntos Contro El Dolor (United Against Pain), with three nurse nuns and a staff of volunteers. Dr. Lua is dedicated to the alleviation of pain for all, no matter a patient’s background, religious belief, or economic position.
Dr. Lua, author of El Enfermo, Terreno Sagrada/The Ill, Sacred Terrain, offered several slides of her work in Mexico and Spain, gave stunning examples of patient care, and spoke about dying at home or in a hospital (advantages and disadvantages of each), myths and realities of the use of morphine, the art of sharing sad news, and preparing the spirit, among other subjects. The most riveting discussion was on ethical dilemmas, a subject she teaches often – why and who one tells or does not tell of their terminal condition based on socio-economic backgrounds, culture, expectations, and other factors.
Other speakers were FASEC Medical Director and internist Dr. Pablo Vazquez Calero, who gave a precise and memorable presentation on pressure ulcers and wound care, and Dr. Carlos Alvarez Avila, a SOLCA anesthesiologist who spoke knowledgeably about analgesic use over opioids in the care of cancer pain, and, how to deal with difficult pain.
Psychologist Dr. Maria Caridad Alvarado Moreno spoke of the effects of pain on children, and FASEC nurse Anita Quinde Garcia spoke about domestic palliative care.
American music thanatologist Ann Dowdy closed the event with moving, spiritual harp music (non-countable beats, free music). The tradition of healing music for the ill and the dying dates back to 11th century France. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMKsZ0M6z00 to hear Dowdy discuss music for palliative care.
The next FASEC trainings are scheduled for the second week of June, the third week of July, and a final week in October.
FASEC is located at Av. 10 de Agosto y Agustin Landivar next to SOLCA cancer hospital. Telephone numbers are (07)409 6392 and 409 6391. The e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Marcelo Alvarado is the administrator, and Soledad Villavicencio is the assistant administrator/coordinator.
Although FASEC, founded in 1981, was originally created to assist patients with cancer (as well as their families), it is their intention to expand services for palliative care to others. FASEC does not have a web site.
The web site of Juntos Contro el Dolor is http://www.juntoscontraeldolor.com.mx/
Wendy Jane Carrel, M.A., is a Spanish speaking North American. She has spent over two years traveling province to province in Ecuador (as well as in Chile and Mexico) researching senior care options. In her home state of California she served as a Senior Center Director for a city, Head of Information and Outreach for a County Office on Aging, Administrator in Assisted Living (including Alzheimer’s care), and a non-profit communications and grants officer. She offers guidance for North Americans who wish assistance negotiating the Ecuadorian health system, senior care options countrywide, end-of-life care, and disposition of remains. See www.WellnessShepherd.com or contact her at email@example.com