Posted by: calloftheandes | January 30, 2012

Medical Clinic in Quito Brightens Lives of Hospice Patients

A hospice day facility is housed at the Vozandes Carapungo Clinic north of Quito

For many people, life’s most difficult transition is dying. But you wouldn’t know it from the cheerful conversations and group activities held at Hospital Vozandes-Quito’s (HVQ’s) day clinic in Carapungo, a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Ecuador’s capital city.

Each Wednesday volunteers come to HCJB Global Hands’ clinic to encourage patients who have mere months left to live, treating them to activities such as live music, crafts, special meals, snacks and Bible studies.

The volunteers, who are responsible for their own transportation, organize all the activities. They may help patients assemble a jigsaw puzzle or make beautiful flower arrangements, giving them a break from the daily routine while providing a much-needed day off for the full-time caregivers.

Sheila Leech

“Palliative care is all about symptom control—pain relief and quality of life,” explained Sheila Leech**, HCJB Global’s vice president of international healthcare. “We pray for the patients, many who are going through chemotherapy and radiation.”

It’s all done for patients for whom healing or therapeutic care is no longer possible. “They are in the last stages of life; they are dying,” Leech related. She helped raise funds in her native England for the hospice clinic which first opened in 2002.

While the temporal benefits of hospice care are evident, volunteers most remember those patients who found the Lord before dying—receiving eternal benefits. One patient, Gregorio*, surprised many when he gave thanks to God for his cancer diagnosis because he saw the illness as a key step in his decision to put faith in Christ.

Working on grief issues with bereaved children. (photo by Sheila)

Pedro* is a 14-year-old boy with an inoperable brain tumor who has far outlived all expectations since his original diagnosis. “He loves to play Mexican Train with the volunteers, and recently we took him to the zoo,” Leech said.

Maria* was a patient who had a hankering for ceviche, a favorite Ecuadorian appetizer with shrimp marinated in citrus juices and seasoned with local herbs and spices. “So we got shrimp at the market,” she related. “It was so good, and now the patients often ask for ceviche!”

Mario* was another patient who has also fared much better than expected since being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. “He is on fire for the Lord, and His insight into the Scriptures is incredible,” Leech said.

“He was featured on a local television program, and a local construction company offered to build a three-bedroom house for his family,” she explained. “This was a direct answer to prayer. His wife was recently contracted by the hospital in the environmental hygiene department, giving her a stable income as Mario is no longer able to work.”

While there are hospitals in Ecuador that treat the terminally ill, the concept of hospice care is relatively new for the country. “The goal is to meet unmet community needs, and I see care for the dying as one of those needs. HVQ serves as a model for other ministries and services in Ecuador,” Leech said.

The clinic also does what it can to help patients stay home with their families, even renting out specialized medical equipment to families that need it.

*Pseudonyms used to protect the patients’ privacy.

**A British nurse, Sheila, tells of her teen years in a biker gang before coming to personal faith in Christ. Her involvement in blessing others with God’s love has taken her to places and experiences requiring continued faith in God.

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