Published on: September 30, 2020

“Attending PalliCOVID ECHO opened new perspective on how I can deal and manage my patients not just in this time of pandemic but in general. We may be coping with this situation differently but the goal is alike–to help and treat our patient with care, compassion and empathy but maintaining our stand as a [health care worker] with dignity, especially to those in their end-of-life stage and their families. Thank you for the knowledgeable mentors, who taught us concise but very informative data regarding palliative care. I will put into practice what I learned to my community.” – Dr. Vivien Ona-Gevana, MD, Philippines

Rontu Sangma and Rajendra Dutt Bijalwan, Regional Program Officers at Pallium India, write:

With self-isolation and quarantine becoming the new norm, we seem to be losing the sense of community; the sense of belonging that previously united us. Psychologist Abraham Maslow calls this the “need for love and belonging”. These are the driving forces behind ‘PalliCovid-ECHO‘, a joint undertaking by Pallium India and PalliCovidKerala, an informal group of 22 like-minded palliative care physicians, created with the aim of developing guidelines and common strategies to deal with the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

PalliCovid ECHO virtual sessions train health workers in Palliative Care management in the context of Covid-19. The training is designed to capacitate health-workers in alleviating Serious Health-related Suffering of the patient and their family. It involves prevention, assessment and management of symptoms including pain, breathlessness and agitation, as well as providing psychological, social and spiritual support. The training also equips health workers to manage work related stress.

(Click to enlarge the images.)

A total of 18 sessions (each of 5 days duration) have been conducted since April 6th 2020. Pallium India’s National Outreach team was tasked with co-ordinating with organisations in the public and private sector to identify and recruit participants for the sessions. Our team reached out to various National Health Missions, private and public healthcare and medical education institutions as well as individuals. So far a total of 1400 participants have registered for the course, out of which 865 attended a minimum of one out of the five sessions. Government Orders were issued by Dept. of Health and Family Welfare of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Manipur and Kashmir to Chief Medical Officers to engage health-workers to attend the training program. Wide press coverage that we got in the states of Uttarakhand and Manipur has helped us to better reach out to prospective participants in the north and north east of the country.

Maximum number of participation was from the state of Uttarakhand (283) followed by Chhattisgarh (144), Manipur (142) and Kerala (55). Some of the Pallicovid participants have registered for the Foundation Course in Palliative Medicine (FCPM) and Foundation Course in Palliative Nursing (FCPN) conducted by Pallium India to broaden their understanding of palliative care.

We have been receiving very heartening feedback about the course from organisations and individuals in the form of testimonials and emails. It was a matter of great happiness and encouragement for us to receive a letter of appreciation from the Directorate of Health Services, Manipur. The testimonials we received reinforced our confidence in the country’s healthcare fraternity’s commitment to integrate palliative care into mainstream healthcare.

Constructive feedback of the course serves as a constant motivation for us to work towards Pallium India’s goal of universal access to quality and affordable to palliative care in our country.

“The sessions were engaging and covered a wide range. I found the sessions on communication, ethics, dealing with psychosocial and spiritual issues, and bereavement of particular interest. […] I am far better informed of these issues and their ramifications than I was before I took the course. The e-booklet with the various algorithms developed by Pallium India is a boon. I would urge you to read the relevant chapter before you attend each session; doing so will enable you to gain a deeper understanding and help you to contribute to the discussion at the end of the session. If you are a health care worker, regardless of your disciplinary and departmental affiliations, I strongly recommend that you attend this course and take advantage of the wealth of wisdom that it offers.” – Navjeevan Singh, Former Director-Professor of Pathology & Coordinator of the Medical Education Unit, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi

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