The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) bade a fond and very sad farewell to Dr Rut Kiman in May this year as she stepped down from her role from the ICPCN Board of Trustees as representative for Latin America. Rut has been on the ICPCN Board from its inception and has contributed enormously to the development of the organisation, particularly in Latin America. She was the driving force behind the most successful 2nd International ICPCN Conference held in Buenos Aires in May 2016.
Taking over as representative for Latin America on the Board is Dr Regina Okhuysen-Cawley. Dr Okhuysen-Cawley was born and grew up in Mexico; attended Medical School there, then trained in General Paediatrics and Paediatric Critical Care Medicine in the USA. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Regina says, “Having grown up in a resource-limited environment, and having witnessed much avoidable suffering and preventable deaths, I am passionate about health care delivery to the critically ill and early integration of palliative medicine for children with serious illnesses. My husband is English, my son is Russian, and my cat is Mexican… a scrawny little thing born in my mother’s back yard. I love gardening, photography, and cooking.”
To learn more, ehospice asked a few questions related to her career and passion for children’s palliative care.
Q: What drew you to work in palliative care?
I decided on a career in Paediatrics early in life, having developed a crush on my paediatrician, an elderly gentleman who treated my asthma. When I was in high school, my mother took me to visit the local children’s hospital – somehow, I was allowed to tour one of the wards where children with severe hydrocephalus and other serious diseases received care, and I decided on that day that I would focus my attention on the seriously ill. Although the landscape of paediatric care has changed substantially, with marked drops in childhood mortality on a global level, there is an abiding need for palliative care throughout the world – in resource-limited and resource-sufficient environments alike.
Q: What did it mean to be invited to serve on the ICPCN Board of Trustees?
Well… it was an unexpected honour – the highlight of my career ! I have long admired the remarkable work that has been accomplished by the organization throughout the world; being able to represent Latin America having grown up and trained in Mexico is especially meaningful; I am looking forward to learning so much from the group, and sharing everything I can.
Q: What do you see as the role of ICPCN in the global development of palliative care?
The ICPCN has brought together some of the finest clinicians, administrators, and ambassadors in the world. Two extremely successful international conferences have allowed for dissemination of state-of-the art and science of palliative medicine, with a third conference highly anticipated by clinicians throughout the globe. Online modules, which have been translated into several languages, and the online directory are resources accessible to clinicians everywhere. Significant international collaborative efforts that will lead to improved access to palliative care services worldwide are being coordinated by ICPCN leadership.