RMD Trust provides free hospice care and home care for bed-ridden patients

Pain. It is highly improbable that someone will claim to have not experienced it, unless of course the person has that rare medical condition where he/she is insensitive to the feeling. It is a common sensation and in most cases it will go away by itself or be managed by medicine. But, what about those who are terminally ill or suffering from a chronic disease, for who pain is a constant, distressing feeling.

“Modern medical science looks at the curative aspect of an illness, while ignoring the concept of pain alleviation and management,” says Dr. Republica Sridhar, a Palliative care physician. Palliative care is a branch of science which focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients.

A General Practitioner by profession, Dr. Republica was drawn to the field some eight years ago. She acquired a Post Graduation in Palliative Care from Flinders University, Australia, and later trained in Amrita University.

Free treatment

From converting her nursing home into a Palliative Care centre, Dr. Republica has come a long way today. Her RMD Pain and Palliative Care Trust is a non-profit organisation which provides in-patient and out-patient services, free hospice care, and home care for bed-ridden patients.

“Many can’t even afford basic pain killers. For poor patients who are terminally or chronically ill we provide treatment for free. Those who can afford the services, the payment goes as donation to the trust,” she adds. The trust gets most referrals from the Cancer Institute. “But the focus is not merely on terminally ill cancer patients. We also treat those with chronicle renal and liver failure, and elderly patients who are nearing end-of-life.”

The trust also runs a Hospice service centre at Porur and one in Madurai, where patients are provided food, shelter and end-of-life care. Community-based palliative care is also undertaken, where a team of doctor and nurses treat patients in their homes. “Many do not want to go back to hospitals or cannot travel to one. We reach out to such patients,” says Dr. Republica.

Many approach the trust after being turned away from hospitals because their disease is in the advanced stage and treatment is of no use. “Most of our patients suffer so much pain that they request us to end their life. Nursing is a real challenge in such cases.”

The Trust provides training and job opportunities for under-privileged nursing students in palliative and psycho-social care. “Palliative care involves team work and our nurses are very well trained. As their job is demanding, we give them enough time to recoup. As physicians, we also undergo stress. Keeping emotional distance from patients and their family is not always possible,” Dr. Republica added.

The Trust, which has so far helped over 2,000 patients, is run on donation from philanthropists and corporate companies.

With the Indian Medical Council recognising palliative care, Dr. Republica feels more doctors will involve themselves in the field. “Today’s medical system is not equipped or trained to provide such care delivery system. We at the trust believe that the exit of a person from this world should be as good as his/her birth. Giving patients their dignity of life even in death is a basic human right.”

The vision of the trust is to establish an exclusive hospital for palliative, oncological and geriatric care. The trust has taken its first step towards realising this dream, with a land being bought in Kundrathur.

The trust is located at 13, Ragaviah Road, T. Nagar. For details, contact 2815 7373/ 93810 16588 or log on to www.rmdpainpalliative.com

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