In supporting the workers, Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter in Glenview hosted a two-week, hands-on learning seminar.
The Egyptian staff visited hospice patients, made floor rounds with CareCenter medical teams and observed the whole process of dying with dignity and free of stressful symptoms.
“We have palliative outpatient clinics in Egypt, but not hospice care. Why? Because it’s not part of the treatment philosophy. We’re still concerned with active treatment,” said oncologist doctor Amany Ahmed, of Cairo University Hospital.
“We have the medical services in our country, but not the systems for more people to treat. We hope to implement the hospice system as soon as possible,” she said.
Ahmed hoped to inform the medical profession and public through charity organizations, the government, volunteers and the media.
“The general population in Egypt does not know about hospice care,” added Dr. Azza Omran, an anesthesiologist at Cairo University Hospital.
Despite the 2011 Egyptian revolution and violent demonstrations since then, the doctors said people still receive good medical care.
“I still go to work everyday and hospitals are crowded with people. The political issues have nothing to do with us,” Ahmed said.
Nancy Romanchek, a CareCenter registered nurse case manager, visited Egypt last year and told a doctor about hospice in the United States.
“He said it was exactly what his country needed — the concept of nurses and doctors going as teams to see patients,” said Romanchek, of Lincolnshire.
“Roads in Egypt are bad and it’s hard coming in from the rural fringes for treatment in Cairo. People ferry across the Nile River.”
Although she was joking the doctor about sending colleagues to the CareCenter, he accepted.
“God set us down together that day,” said Romanchek.
While observing patients at CareCenter, both doctors were impressed with the teamwork among physicians, nurses, nurse aids, chaplains, social workers and volunteers.
“All their patient notes go into computers where the team can read observations,” Romanchek said.
“We’re trying to show doctors from different countries there must be a better life for patients not hooked up to a machine,” said Kristin Gover, communications director for Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter.
So far, the center has invited medical teams from Japan, South Korea and Israel to learn more about hospice treatment.
Rabbi Pinchas Eisenbach works at the CareCenter.
“We have all kinds of patients here and we cater to their needs and needs of families — Jews, Muslims, Christians,” he said.
“We need to help them with special holidays, diets, culture and customs.”
Jamie O’Malley, Midwest CareCenter president and CEO, said her staff and volunteers have made lifelong friendships” with the Egyptian nurses and doctors.
“This is a mutually beneficial program and one where we are able to help others as well as learn about their traditions and approaches to care that will help us care for our own Muslim people in our community,” she said.
This article was originally published online by the Chicago Sun-Times. It is reprinted with permission.