Karla Betania Sánchez Arismendi
The entire community of Azuay, and in fact all of southern Ecuador can take pride, and comfort that a fully established palliative care center in Cuenca is on the cutting edge of innovative care for terminal patients, regardless of medical diagnosis, or ability to pay. To celebrate the many achievements already accomplished, the public is welcome to an open house on Thursday 1 November at the FASEC Center ( 10 de Agosto y Agustin Landivar).
The Foundation for the Service of the Cancer Sick (FASEC) was created 37 years ago. There was no oncological hospital in Cuenca in 1981, when Dr. Leoncio Cordero Jaramillo first enlisted a group of women to create a foundation to care for the many cancer patients who came from provinces throughout southern Ecuador and didn’t have a place to stay. Since then (FASEC), in collaboration with Care Partners International (CPI), has expanded their services to include palliative care for people suffering from a variety of terminal medical conditions that contribute to chronic pain.
In 1988, the RAMA Foundation of Cuenca donated a building, at 10 de Agosto Avenue. This facility currently has 40 beds and provides basic hospital services including an administrative department, dining facilities, open green space, a chapel, and general services that allows FASEC to provide first-rate professional care with an emphasis on personal attention for every patient.
David Small, Ph.D., an Amercian Psychologist, and former medical missionary in Ecuador, is the President of Care Partners International. He recently gave CuencaHighLife/Cuenca Dispatch a tour of the FASEC facility.
“We have a multidisciplinary team of professionals in different areas of medicine who handle treatments that encompass various aspects of the recovery of a patient, as well as focusing on the family because it is important to note that the concept of hospice care is not yet well recognized in Ecuador,” said David Small. “This project is a milestone in the development of palliative care for the Cuencano and expats population.”
The staff at FASEC is fully trained to provide first-rate oncological and chronic pain care for patients. In addition, there is always bilingual staff members on site who are trained to care for patients regardless of their primary language, be it English or Spanish.
“We are not too rigorous when it comes to the treatment patients have to do. If the patient believes that attending mass or participating in a traditional ceremony could help alleviate their pain, we encourage it as long as the patient is not put in danger “says Andrés Andrade, treating doctor.
Currently, FASEC serves 16 patients.
Dr. Small is in charge of the education program led by doctors from the Hospice of Dayton Center in the United States. He, together with representatives from Care Partners International of Washington state, a recently hosted a five-day palliative care training session, the first in a series of four, to train physicians, psychologists, and volunteers. Further educational programs are being planned in collaboration with our new associate, the University of Cuenca, who signs our certificates.
“The training we provide twice yearly focuses on the philosophy of palliative care for critical patients, as well as detailing the latest advances and critical issues facing health and end of life care. Our palliative care training workshops are geared toward doctors, students, psychologists and families members who have loved ones in need of assistance. Attendees receive a certificate endorsed by the San Francisco University, Quito, certifying the participants who completed 72 hours of training. This is also my opportunity to give back to Ecuador,” said Small
The facilities are spacious and comfortable. Each room has a private bathroom a television, mirrors and a wide comfortable bed, as well as appropriate seating for visitors. There is also a recreation area with a garden and walls painted with colored figures. There is a Catholic altar for those who wish to pray, as well.
The foundation has always had the active community support of people of goodwill and companies that help to maintain the house. Throughout the year volunteers create activities to raise funds in support of FASEC, such as the gastronomic festival that takes place every year in November. Currently, all funds raised from the workshops are earmarked to help patients who can not afford the services provided by the hospital.
“We are looking to establish a palliative care program in Cuenca with FASEC that will eventually be self-sustaining,” said Small.
Other services the foundation offers are home visits. “We evaluate the patients and the family situation to best support the patient in their dying process at home or at the hospice,” said Dr. Andrade.
For more information, please join David Small who will be hosting an open house on November 1st (From 10 a.m to 2 p.m.) on FASEC’s building. Free entry and appetizers. FASEC is located at Av. 10 de Agosto y Agustin Landivar next to SOLCA cancer hospital. The telephone number is (07)409 6392 and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org