St. George’s University student group Urban Humanitarian Projects, the philanthropic arm of Iota Epsilon Alpha, donated $16,000 to the recently founded Palliative Care Association of Grenada (PCAG). A volunteer organization, PCAG was created to improve the quality of life of patients and their families through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual.
Along with the donation, IEA/UHP announced that it has formed the IEA-PCAG committee to foster ongoing collaboration with the association. This team of about 20 students is dedicated to providing the manpower needed to advance PCAG’s efforts within the community.
“When we discovered how great the need is for palliative care in Grenada and the potential positive impact of PCAG, we decided it was an incredible opportunity that we could not ignore to help the citizens of Grenada,” says Max Solow, IEA president.
The funds donated will be used to conduct field surveys of Grenada’s current status in palliative care, such as the drugs available at pharmacies, how physicians typically care for terminally ill patients, and public opinion on common palliative drugs like morphine and other opioids, projects the students will assist with.
The donation will also help fund upcoming workshops for the Grenadian health care force, including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, on standard practices in pain palliation, facilitated by Dr. Gerard Corcoran, a Consultant in Palliative Medicine from the University of Liverpool.
Dr. Corcoran was instrumental in founding PCAG in conjunction with Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson, Chair of St. George’s University Bioethics Department, and Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) Senior Research Fellow, along with several other SGU faculty members. PCAG works closely with the Ministry of Health while also educating health care professionals through workshops designed for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and health assistants.
In October 2015, the Ministry of Health in partnership with PCAG held four two-day multidisciplinary workshops after obtaining support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for a Palliative Care Training Program. Dr. Corcoran and two experienced Senior Nurse Tutors from the UK – Dr. John Unsworth and Mr. Guy Tucker – delivered training in palliative care and pain management to about 120 health professionals working in hospital and community settings in Grenada.
At the end of the Palliative Care Training Program, participants would be able to identify and manage common symptoms and palliative care emergencies; understand the management of symptoms in the final days/hours, including the use of medications for breakthrough pain; and be able to identify the final hours and deal with grief and loss in family members providing appropriate support, guidance, and intervention. It is envisaged that this training will lead to improvements in the practice of palliative care and will enhance the patients’ experience at the end of their life.
“No one should ever have to suffer from pain in the final days of their life. As physicians we take an oath to provide the best standard of care to our patients, and our duty does not stop once a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness.” said Mr. Solow. “It is in these times that we must continue to care for the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of our patients. Like Grenada, many other countries have also been unable to establish a standard of care in pain palliation, which is why our students are so passionate about influencing a change within this country while we can. We are excited for all the ways our students can help develop the palliative care initiative within Grenada in the coming years.