Travel date: April 11, 2018
Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: IX Congreso Latinoamericano de Cuidados Paliativos de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Cuidados Paliativos (ALCP)
Origin: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic / Destination: Santiago, Chile
Attending the ALCP Congress on Palliative Care was an incredible milestone in my life. Joining with experts and colleagues from all over Latin America with one goal in mind, to expand horizons and share knowledge & advances in Palliative Care, was a life changing experience. Not only did I meet incredible people advancing the same cause, but I also was equipped with a wealth of information to take back and apply to my own practice in the Dominican Republic. Although all the plenaries were excellent, I especially was moved by the Pediatric component. I learned so much about Pediatric Palliative Care, and I feel that I am now better prepared to address the specific needs of younger patients and to creatively deal with their parents and caregivers. I also learned how important it is not to forget how the support staff of PC and Hospice grieve in a special way, and not to ever forget to address their emotional needs as well. I was enlightened and intrigued with the Bioethics issues addressed. It has sparked in me a desire to dive deeper and acquire more knowledge in this area in order to expand my understanding of how to deal with important end of life decisions.
I will use the skills and knowledge gained by attending this conference to help advance Palliative Care in the Dominican Republic. I realize the need for more networking among professionals and organizations, for better policy on access & education on pain control, and the need for awareness campaigns for the public, health care providers and general support staff on the importance of palliative care. I will be working diligently to open a Hospice care facility to address the needs of adults and children that need specialized multidisciplinary focused care during the end of life transition. While at the conference, I met a speaker that has been involved in the only in- patient hospice clinic in Chile, Clinica Familia. I went out to the site and made a visit. Since most of what I do is in home care, it was great to see a clinical in-patient setting. It was run by nurses and funded by the Universities. I will be learning more on how to address the importance of integrating a spiritual component to the care spectrum. To further advance palliative care in the Dominican Republic, we will be providing more education to medical personnel, support staff, caregivers and the public as a whole through informational meetings and conferences. We are coordinating a conference and several activities to be carried out during the month of Oct. We are creating a national network of anyone involved in with palliative care to increase awareness of what is happening around the country and to begin working together to get palliative care recognized as a medical specialty by our Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.
It would be extra beneficial to include an option for the pre-conference plenaries as part of the scholarship registration. I attended the pre-conference plenary on pediatric palliative care…it was amazing, and I left with a wealth of new information. I did have issues trying to register and pre-pay for it since it was not done along with my registration, and although it was accomplished after I arrived at the conference, it was significantly costlier.
Practicing palliative care in the Dominican Republic has been challenging, but I left the conference with a new perspective and ready to combat some of these challenges head on. We have created a network of individuals and professionals working in the realm of palliative care. We have decided to meet on a regular basis in different areas around the country to get more familiar with each other’s work, share challenges and build a support system. fter hearing how others have overcome the challenges of lack of education and awareness on palliative care, I feel better equipped to face these obstacles. As a community of palliative care workers, we are planning awareness campaigns for the community, developing educational strategies to be implemented in the local clinics and medical schools to address the gaps in education by professionals, and creating policy briefs to combat the poor availability and distribution of opioid across the country. Up to now, there has been no formal Hospice program recognized. We are excited to begin actively working towards opening an organized program for Hospice care. It will focus on the multidisciplinary approach to care, addressing the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the patients and their families. A bereavement program will be instituted to care for the needs of the health care workers as well as the patient and their family members.