Hospice in NE
The opening of the first hospice in the Northeast is a welcome development in the New Year. Established by the Deepsikha Cancer Care Foundation, the hospice at Sontala near Mirza in Kamrup rural district has been built on doted land and funded through charitable contributions by private persons and the State government. It is meant for termilly ill cancer patients who have but a few months to live. At this stage, they no longer need aggressive treatment which comes at prohibitive cost; rather, they require palliative care to get relief from pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Not just physical pain, hospices also believe in addressing emotiol and spiritual pain which can make the dying process a terrible ordeal. While doctors and health professiols are engaged to provide specialized medical care, there can be a range of counsellors to help the patient sort out his affairs. A soothing environment is created while family members of the patient are kept involved. Though the hospice concept in one form or another has been around for a centuries, its modern form is the brainchild of Cicely Saunders, the British nurse who later took a physician’s degree. During the Sixties, Dame Saunders laid down the principles on focusing upon the dying patient and dealing with his pain in its totality. In 1986, India had its first hospice at Bombay, the Shanti Aveda Sadan. It was set up by cancer surgeon Dr LJ Desouza, who was once asked by a termilly ill cancer patient ‘to do his best’ for she just wished to be comfortable and active as much as possible. That was when the good doctor realised that ‘nobody wanted euthasia, they just wanted to be symptom-free and comfortable’. Surely, more such hospices need to come up in the Northeast to help termilly ill people pass their last days with peace and dignity.