Living in the face of death at Hospice centre

At the Chandigarh Hospice Centre, Dr Minni Arora and Dr Neeru Anand, along with their team have been providing psychological and spiritual care to cancer patients in their last days. For over 10 years the doctors and the team have been serving people whom they know will die. They listen to their sorrows, clean their wounds, give them emotional support and make sure they live in comfort till the end.

Chandigarh Hospice, a joint project of Red Cross Society and Radiotherapy department of PGIMER, was a 10 bed centre started in 2003. It now has 20 beds.

Dr HC Sharma, Head of Radiotherapy department said, "Till now, 9,000 advanced stage cancer patients have been taken care of at the centre. Every year about 900 cancer patients are admitted here and the number is increasing."

He added, "A professional and very dedicated team looks after patients under the guidance of radiotherapy experts from PGIMER."

Patients are referred to the centre for palliative care when active cancer treatment is not possible.

They are at the last stage of the terminal illness and all they require is care and psychological help, which the centre provides.

Dr Neeru Anand said, "We provide the patients nursing facility. There are patients who develop maggots in their wounds. It is not easy for family members to clean them, so we do that. We listen to sorrows of patients and family members and share their psychological stress.

"It is not an easy job. At times it becomes very difficult for us to remain stable. Last week, three patients died in one day. But it is our duty to make the last stage of their life as comfortable as possible," said Dr Minni Arora.

Giving the team, which consists of five nurses, four nursing attendants, four sweepers, two cooks and a social worker, due credit the doctors said, "It is not the job of a single doctor but the entire team. From sweepers to nurses to attendants, everybody at the centre is very dedicated to their work."

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