Photo: Mark M. Murray.
As Global Partners in Care (GPIC) celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw first-hand the impact grass-roots partnerships can have on enhancing access to palliative care.
Since our founding 1999 as Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa (FHSSA), our Partnership Program has been guided by the belief that individuals and organizations can make a substantial and meaningful impact to enhance hospice and palliative care where the need is great and resources few.
The 37 GPIC partnerships we shepherd showed an unswerving commitment to extending compassion and reducing suffering among those in need, even as resources such as PPE and funding were scarce and lockdowns were common place.
Our partners responded to these challenges with innovation and dedication. In Uganda for example, Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja clinical officers, nurses, drivers and social workers went out before a country-wide lockdown to cover each of the 21 patient routes, leaving before dawn. Teams provided medicines and nutritional support packages to ensure that patients would have at least one nutritious meal a day for at least a month.
The pandemic also highlighted the vital role advocacy plays in assuring palliative care services are available. With support from its US partner, Indiana-based Center for Hospice Care, the Palliative Care Association of Uganda worked with its member organizations and the Uganda Ministry of Health to ensure that palliative care was integrated into essential health services country-wide during the pandemic.
The impact of compassion and dedication can be felt closer to home as well for GPIC’s US partners. Hospice of the North Coast in California has been partnered with Malawi’s Nkhoma Hospital’s palliative care unit since 2015. HNC Executive Director Sharon Lutz recently noted,
“Sharing the stories about people impacted through our international relationship encourages people to become champions. We have three new employees who were so excited to learn about our global partnership that they joined our partnership committee after only one week of employment.”
In addition, the impact of the partnership has spread to those HNC cares for as well. “We had a family with a loved one who passed, and they gave us a donation of $2,500 designated for PPE for our global partner. That has never happened to us before, and it says volumes to us,” Lutz said.
For many organizations a GPIC partnership can boost staff morale and community engagement as well as making an affirmative impact across the globe. As Sharon Lutz noted,
“We continually advocate that there are no borders in palliative and hospice care … it’s humanity. It reaches across any border. That we’re able to be a part of that is amazing.”
To learn more about Global Partners in Care please visit www.globalpartnersincare.org – Global Partners in Care has several international palliative care providers in low-resource settings who have applied for mutually beneficial, multi-faceted partnerships with a US organization. For information about becoming a GPIC partner, contact Cyndy Searfoss, our partnership director, at email@example.com.
Mark Murray is President/CEO of Center for Hospice Care (CHC) which serves nine counties in northern Indiana, USA – https://cfhcare.org/services/ and he is also President/CEO of Global Partners in Care.
This article was originally posted on ehospice editorial edition, 12/13/21.