PETALING JAYA (Herald Malaysia): Archbishop Murphy Pakiam and Sr Mary Soh, Provincial Superior of FMM Sisters for Malaysia & Singapore officiated the opening of the Assunta Palliative Care Centre (AsPaCC), a division of Assunta Hospital, on Oct 4.
Archbishop Pakiam commented that it was good to see people of goodwill of different races, hearts burning with love and compassion, at the official opening of the AsPaCC.
Many people do not generally know what Palliative care is all about. First started in Malaysia in 1991, there are today about 28 hospices and 20 hospital- based palliative care teams. Patients who are facing life-limiting or life-threatening illness have another option through palliative care which aims to improve their quality of life.
AsPaCC was inspired by the founding Sisters of the Franciscan Missionary of Mary (FMM), which is fully owned by Assunta Hospital. It started in Sept 2010 as part of the charity objectives of Assunta Hospital under the Assunta Integrated Social Services (ASSISS) Programme. According to Dr Poh, today AsPaCC has a palliative care doctor, 3 nurses, a medical social worker, 2 counsellors and more than 10 volunteers. Two very experienced Palliative Care consultants, Dr Loh Ee Chin and Dr Lam Chee Loong as AsPaCc honourary medical advisors, support their team.
Dr Chang said the AsPaCC palliative team’s main goal is to provide holistic care to patients and family in the comfort of their home. Services include pain and symptom management, psychosocial, spiritual, grief and bereavement care. The centre doesn’t cater for any stay-in patient. It mainly functions as an administration office. AsPaCC referral comes from hospitals only. From 20 patients referred in 2010, today close to 165 patients have been seen. The majority of the cases referred are lung and breast cancer patients, with some stomach and colon cancer patients. AsPaCC currently serves patients in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
With the kind donation by Naza Motor of a Peuguot 207, their nurses could travel long distances to meet the patients in their homes.
According to Dr Chang it takes RM500,000.00 per annum to run the centre as medicine is also given free to poor patients.
Leading a committed palliative care team in AsPaCC, Dr Chang hopes they can bring all their skill and knowledge, care and experience, to ease some of the suffering that patients have to face daily, to ensure that they are cared for from the beginning to the end of life.
Many toured the facilities at the centre, consisting of a medical room, hall, consultation room, offices and a store room. There was an exhibition of equipment that are loaned free of charge to patients such as push chairs, wheel chairs, nebulisers and others.
The centre is situated along Jalan Templer, opposite the Assunta Hospital. With financial support and seed money from Assunta Hospital and the use of a single storey bungalow rent free plus a RM50,000/- donation for four years from United Malacca, AsPaCC was able to take-off.
Among the invited guests present at the ceremony were Fr Clarence Devadass, SMK Assunta Convent Founder Sr Enda Ryan FMM, Dr Patricia Poh, Chairperson AsPaCC Committee & Dr Felicia Chang Medical Director of AsPaCC, staff and volunteers, Phoon Soon Keong, Chairman and fellow directors of Assunta Board Consultants, Palliative Care Physicians and medical colleagues, Dato’ Richard Robless Chairman of Hospis Malaysia, Dr Siow from Kasih Hospice, Tony Wee of AOHD, FMM religious Sisters and CEO and members of the senior management of Assunta Hospital, benefactors and friends. -- By Bernard Anthony