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Palliative Care Unit opens at Caura

By Sasha Harrinanan Sunday, August 10 2014

click on pic to zoom in
The Caura Palliative Care Unit (CPCU) at the Caura Hospital, Caura. ...
The Caura Palliative Care Unit (CPCU) at the Caura Hospital, Caura. ...

Persons in need of pain relief from a terminal illness or disease, while maximising on their quality of life, can now seek treatment at the Caura Palliative Care Unit (CPCU), Caura Hospital, Caura.

Formally opened yesterday, this 12-bed, in-patient unit is the third such facility in Trinidad and Tobago, and the first State-funded palliative care unit within the Caribbean.

Delivering the feature address, Palliative Medicine Physician with the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), Dr Neil Nijhawan, explained the term palliative care.

“In essence, palliative care is about caring for patients with illnesses that cannot be cured, relieving their suffering, supporting them and their families difficult times. The aim of palliative care is therefore quality of life.”

Nijhawan noted that palliative care is not just for persons with terminal cancer but also for those with “end-stage cancer, end-stage heart or kidney failure, progressive neurological conditions like motor-neuron disease; MS, and end-stage dementia,” among other conditions. “There’s a saying attributed to a health worker in Nairobi, Kenya,” he added. “Palliative care is about adding life to years, not simply years to life.”

Apart from being able to care for 12 end-stage patients at a time, the CPCU offers out-patient clinics on Tuesday and Thursday mornings by appointment. Nijhawan also said that since November 2013, the unit has operated a ward-based consulting service for patients at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope. The unit was the brainchild of “The Palliative Care Society of TT,” founded in April 2011 by Satyernand ‘Saty’ Seemungal and his wife, Sylvia Chan Seemungal, two years after their daughter, Trudy-Ann Seemungal-Velauytham died of lung cancer.

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