IAHPC Scholars’ Reports

2021; Volume 22, No 5, May

Reports from IAHPC Scholars at the Latin American Association of Palliative Care, and IAHPC-sponsored winning posters from the same event.

What a Difference a Day Makes! ALCP’s Jornada Virtual

The Latin American Association of Palliative Care (ALCP) held a Jornada Virtual (online workday) on March 27, a one-day event to further education in palliative care despite the pandemic. The IAHPC awarded 18 scholarships to attend: these are some of the scholars’ reports.

Conference Helped Me Strengthen the Structure of My Team

Socorro Adriana Cabello Ponce de León, MD
Mexico City, Mexico

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as working with palliative care patients in public and private hospitals, aged care residences, and their homes.

Information from the conference is helping me to strengthen the structure of the palliative care team, especially in the face of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which created an opportunity for telemedicine at all levels of care. Transdisciplinary remote care, adapted to each person’s own needs, has been made available for patients and their families, in addition to online teaching and working meetings with clinical teams.

I also took away some tools to care for and decrease burnout among my team members and students. I will pass on what I have learned to my authorities, colleagues, students, patients, and relatives.

There is still a long way to go and many changes to make, but let's continue working as a unified team.

In Virtuality, An Ally in Care
and Other Lessons Learned

Mirian Gonzalez, MD
Chitre, Panama

The conference allowed me to reinforce ideas of care, self-care, and organization. As coordinator of my team, I have had to make many changes during the pandemic: changes that allowed me, as Dr. Bruera would say, to realize that in virtuality we can have an ally in the care of our patients.

What lessons did I learn?

On the subject of opioids, one of the topics at the event, sometimes seeing that the same difficulties exist in other countries makes one gain more strength. Further education of ourselves and our colleagues would definitely help support balanced prescribing. Perhaps if our national coordinators provided more training to the rest of the health team, we would not be facing so many problems.

Home visits are an important pillar; for me, they are an art because, in a glance, I must capture problems of both the patient and their family nucleus. Sometimes we leave believing that we solved a situation, but was it the situation that needed to be solved?

Thanks to IAHPC for the opportunity to participate in this conference. Knowing that we are on the right track and that we are not doing too badly is actually rewarding.

The Message Was Clear: We must adapt

Diane Dykeman-Sabado, MD
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many new challenges to face at the forefront of hospice and palliative care. The ALCP virtual conference was a breath of fresh air. It addressed many of the challenges, and gave specific ways in which the world was coping with the situation.

Dr. Eduardo Bruera was very clear in his message: we must adapt to the changes and develop new methods. Diverting many of our face-to-face patient's visits to telemedicine was a challenge not only for us, but also for our patients. Although we have been working with just a skeleton staff, and our patients have new and growing needs, we have been able to rise to the challenges. Things will never go back to the way they were; we have found a new way of doing things, and it works! We are prepared to keep transforming our care to face the rising needs and challenges ahead.

I Learned How to Address the Topic of Home-Based Care

Ms. Alexandra Aceituno Rios
Guatemala City, Guatemala

The conference helped me understand at the global level how palliative care teams are addressing deficiencies that have arisen since the onset of the pandemic. Learning how to approach the subject of home-based palliative care was an interesting topic for me, as we are receiving more requests for it every day in Guatemala.

As a psychologist, I would have liked to see more scientific sessions that addressed the emotional aspect, but knowing the work that is done worldwide, through the posters, was important and opens the panorama to new techniques and the perception of other countries and their cultures.

Sharing Innovative Techniques of Care

Rut Kiman, MD
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Listening to excellent presentations by speakers and learning about the work of colleagues in the region, who have innovative and original techniques of care, invites us to rethink the new needs of patients, families, and governments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am a pediatrician and specialist in palliative care who has been working in this area of ??medicine for many years, and who also has experience as an assistant physician, senior lecturer, and researcher. This experience has allowed me to reflect on what is built and what we still have to do in our country and in the region for the development and visibility of the specialty. It also reminds us to focus, too, on children.

I am very grateful to IAHPC for facilitating my participation in this conference.

Points of Convergence and Paradigms

Toshio Chiba, MD
São Paulo, Brazil

First of all, I would like to congratulate the IAHPC leadership for the initiative of granting these scholarships.

The central theme—Transforming the Art of Caring—was approached by Drs. Bonilla and Tripodoro in their opening addresses in an interesting and varied way, highlighting changes in the care paradigm during the pandemic, such as telemedicine and home-based care.

I appreciated important sessions on topics such as the use and abuse of opioids, which presented a thorough analysis done with objectivity, on an issue some tend to evade.

It was interesting to see points of convergence on aspects of home care in Latin American countries, as well as paradigms: the difficulties and different ways of treating the same type of care for patients with advanced disease with sometimes subtle and other important differences.

Congratulations to the ALCP for organizing this event despite the difficulty of optimizing the resources in the middle of this pandemic.

Furthering the Objective: Palliative care for all

María del Rosario Berenguel Cook, MD
Lima, Perú

I am grateful for this virtual conference, as it has allowed us to move forward in ALCP’s main mission, which is education. The conference displayed efforts being made to adapt to the unexpected, and shows that we are part of a highly sensitive and responsible organization that nourishes us by disseminating scientific and spiritual information.

As a former president of the ALCP, I am proud to see that we continue with the objective of palliative care for all. Key conference topics to further this goal included the update and management of palliative symptoms, management and development of programs, and management of interdisciplinary teams.

The IAHPC was always present in our activities; the strength and leadership of Dr. Liliana De Lima, as well as her constant concern for our development, has been a permanent stimulus. It is how—with the help of this organization—our path in ALCP has been possible.

Excellent Quality of Speakers and Presentations

Dr. Sofía Bunge
Buenos Aires, Argentina

I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality, and large amount, of work displayed in the presentations and the conference as a whole. I appreciated the opportunity to attend virtually an event with such good academic quality, where I learned updates on issues concerning the pandemic. I also valued the richness of exchanges between speakers on the problem of the use and access to opioids in different settings.

And I appreciated the fact that audio recording was included!

Jornada ALCP 2021: The best posters

At the ALCP event, the IAHPC also sponsored the prizes for the best posters in four categories—clinical, management and administration, COVID-19, and psychosocial/spiritual aspects —with winners gaining a year’s membership and a prize of $125 each. Congratulations to all the prize-winning authors! Click on the posters to enlarge them.

Melissa Zimmermann and Ximena Farfán Zúñiga. Photo used with permission.

Category: Clinical

Poster: Adaptation and Validation in Chile of the SPICT-ES Instrument to Identify Palliative Care Needs

Authors: Ximena Farfán Zúñiga, Melissa Zimmermann

This research showed that the SPICT-ES instrument was “stable and consistent” for clinical use in Chile. “This research arises from the need to have an instrument validated in our Chilean population that allows the identification of patients with palliative needs,” according to the authors.

Category: Management & Administration

Poster: EDUPAL: educating future doctors about pain control and palliative care

Authors: Gustavo De Simone, Vilma Tripodoro, Eduardo Mutto, Marcela Specos, Eduardo De Vito

“In Argentina only 14% of patients receive palliative care (PC) according to their needs. Our objective was to develop, implement, and evaluate a consensus-based program of PC training for medical students. Of 107 experts surveyed, 98% considered PC teaching very necessary; 81% suggested specific subjects, 99% should be taught mainly in the clinical cycle, 63% suggested between 40-60hs. 97% should inspire values ??and attitudes, 94% practical teaching of knowledge and skills. We have achieved a consensus among experts, with the opinion of students that will facilitate the incorporation and implementation of PC teaching in the medical career,” writes lead author, Dr. Vilma Tripodoro.

The poster team (not in order): Gustavo De Simone, Vilma Tripodoro, Eduardo Mutto, Marcela Specos, Eduardo De Vito.
Photo used with permission.

Continuing Care and Palliative Care team members Dr. Fernando Ihl Mena, Dr. Alejandra Palma Behnke, and Cristina Ávila Ramírez. Photo used with permission.

Category: COVID-19

Poster: Remote Psychological and Spiritual Accompaniment Model for hospitalized patients and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Authors: Cristina Avila Ramirez, Alejandra Palma, Veronica Rojas, Fernando Ihl, Francisca Plaza Parrochia, Nivia Estuardo Agurto, Manuel D. Castillo Solis, Estefanía Acuña

The authors write, “This pandemic has shaken us deeply, both personally and professionally... for us, this represents the fruit of the work of a united team sensitive to the needs of our users and the sum of the collaboration of many professionals who supported us in this challenge.”

Mercedes Bernadá Scarrone. Photo used with permission.

Category: Psychosocial

Poster: Perception of competencies and self-confidence of the participants in the ECHO Clinic for pediatric palliative care

Authors: Mercedes Bernadá Scarrone, Valeria Le Pera, Martin Notejane

Fifty ECHO clinic professionals were surveyed, 32/50 pediatricians. The median number of participations in ECHO-CPP clinics was six (1-15). Of those surveyed, 98% considered that they learned something new from the case discussions and that it is useful to use in the care of their patients. 67% reported that the input was valuable, and 33% said it was extremely valuable. 80% reported that the discussion changed their plan of care for the patient.

Editor’s note: All photos on this page used with permission.

To learn more about Latin American Association of Palliative Care, visit the IAHPC Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

To find out more about IAHPC’s Program Support Grants, and our Scholars program and Fellowships, please visit our website. Through these programs we support projects and individuals around the world, especially in developing countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

You can contribute to this program and help palliative care workers attend and participate in congresses and courses by donating to the IAHPC Scholars Campaign in the Global Giving website.

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