Hospital on funding drive for palliative service

Elizabeth Pitout, Rashmi Kooverjee, Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Dr Clint Cupido and Juanita Arendse with the festive-season fruit cake that will be sold to raise money for Victoria Hospital’s palliative-care programme.

A festive-season fruitcake, cycling shirts and a song will help to raise money and awareness for a palliative-care service at Victoria Hospital.

The programme, Abundant Life, has been running at the hospital since 2009. It was introduced by Dr Clint Cupido, the hospital’s head of medicine.

The fund-raising initiatives were introduced to the public at Victoria Hospital on Friday October 8, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

Dr Cupido lamented that there was only one state-funded paediatric palliative care post in the country and that was in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This is actually normal care for people who are living with a serious illness. Palliative care is a human right,“ said Dr Cupido.

Palliative services could be provided at any stage of an illness whereas hospice care helped patients and their families to manage the “end-of-life stage when curative treatment is not beneficial or desired”, he said.

The services, he said, could improve the quality of life for both the patients and their families by “ensuring that families have a better understanding of their treatment options and receive dedicated care, while also reducing lengthy hospital visits”.

In 2018 Abundant Life opened a dedicated home in Bayview and Lindley roads, in Wynberg, where nurses received palliative-care training.

Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, who attended the event, described palliative care as the “stepchild of the health-care system”.

In 2002, hospice care was provided by NGOs and was expanded with funding from the Global Fund to meet the demand for care, at the time, from people succumbing to Aids. “Before, a patient was told you are going to die. Go home,” said Dr Mbombo.

The festive fruit cake was launched by Rashmi Kooverjee, a Wynberg businessman who recently underwent major surgery.

The song, Abundant Life – written by Dr Cupido with music and composition by professional nurse Jamie Barthus – raises awareness about palliative care and is available online at Spotify, ITunes and Apples Music.

An Abundant Life cycling team entered the Cape Town Cycle Tour five years ago, starting with 10 cyclists for the first two years, then 20 then 30, and this year, on Sunday October 10, there were 10 for the charity team entry, but 50 cycling shirts were made, so the balance are being sold.

“It is sad that we are having to raise funds. This funding should be part of the health-care funding,” said Dr Cupido.

To buy a cycle shirt at R500 or a cake at R100, contact Charmaine Hendricks at 021 761 8341.

Victoria Hospital acting CEO Dr Graeme Dunbar and Dr Clint Cupido with the cycle shirts they are selling to raise money for the palliative-care programme at the hospital.