A team of staff members from Ohio’s Hospice spent a week in southern Ecuador this past spring, teaching hospice and palliative medicine to their counterparts at a small hospice. This was the eighth trip Ohio’s Hospice has taken to Ecuador to work with the Foundation to Assist Cancer Patients in Cuenca (FASEC), a pioneer in Ecuador for hospice and palliative care.
Through Compartir, a partnership Ohio’s Hospice has formed with Care Partners International, selected staff members from Ohio’s Hospice travel to Ecuador twice a year to teach care providers about hospice and palliative care. Representatives from Ecuador also visit Ohio twice annually to learn about the care Ohio’s Hospice provides patients and their families.
The group of selected staff members that traveled to Ecuador in March 2019 included Charlotte Glasgo, MA, a chaplain with Ohio’s Hospice Lifecare; Ruth Robson, MSW, LSW, ACHP-SW, medical social worker with Hospice of Central Ohio; Jena Langford, BSN RN BS CCM CHPN, team leader at Hospice House of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton; and Dr. Cleanne Cass, director of physician education and community care at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.
Each of the selected staff members led several discussion sessions with small groups in Ecuador to describe their role with Ohio’s Hospice and enhance knowledge about hospice and palliative care. They also helped provide care in the inpatient unit and home visits. The participants stayed at the homes of host families, immersing themselves in Ecuador’s culture.
Glasgo said the FASEC staff and volunteers were amazing. “They were very interested in what we could teach them about hospice and palliative care,” she said. “They were curious, generous and the most welcoming hosts.”
Her host family was a single woman who is a retired fine restaurant owner. “She was interesting, delightful and very concerned that my visit to her home and beautiful country was perfect,” Glasgo said. “And, it was!”
Robson presented topics on psychosocial issues, including non-pharmacological interventions for pain, supporting families as their loved one is dying, building rapport with patients and their families, compassion fatigue and resilience for staff. “The eight days I spent with the group in Ecuador were perhaps the busiest days,” she said. “But they were the most rewarding of days!”
She appreciated the opportunity to make an impact in another part of the world, while learning so much at the same time. “As a social worker, it is always my goal to make a difference, and I was able to do that in Ecuador,” Robson said. “I strongly believe that hospice work is a calling, and the Ecuador Compartir trip is another calling. I’m so glad I listened.”
For Langford, the best part of the trip to Ecuador was being able to teach and share her hospice experience with the people in Ecuador. “This experience allowed me the opportunity to meet amazingly kind and appreciative people, contribute to the hospice mission in new ways and build community and relationships in Ecuador,” she said. “I appreciated the opportunity to travel to Ecuador and see how they live and care for one another.”
She visited a dying patient in the patient’s home, worked side by side with new hospice nurses at FASEC and partnered with the other Ohio’s Hospice team members to share the mission of Ohio’s Hospice with their counterparts in Ecuador. “The staff at FASEC were gracious and so appreciative of our visit. They kept thanking us,” Langford said. “I kept thanking them. I learned so much from them. It’s hard for me to put into words the impact this experience has had on me.”
Ohio’s Hospice has had a significant impact on palliative care education in Ecuador. There are only 1.63 palliative care services for every 1 million people in Latin America, and there are approximately 600 palliative care specialists, mostly in Mexico and Argentina. Cass sees Ohio’s Hospice playing a role in changing that.
“We see FASEC becoming the center for palliative care and hospice education in Ecuador,” said Cass. “The highlight of this year’s trip for me was the opportunity teach a class on global palliative care to the freshman class at the medical school in Cuenca.”
Wendy Schmitz, MD, VP of medical care/medical director at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, organizes the trip. She encouraged Ohio’s Hospice team members to apply for the trip. “Please understand that it often takes multiple times of applying before someone is chosen,” she said. “So, even if you have applied before, please be encouraged to apply again.”
The next trip is scheduled for October 19-27, 2019. Applications are available for Ohio’s Hospice staff members who want to participate in this international outreach adventure. Applications will close on July 1. To apply, click here. Applications also are available from Maureen Swarts (mswarts@HospiceofDayton.org) or Dr. Wendy Schmitz (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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