Does Russia lack a system of palliative care
On 27 August the actress, Iya Savanna, passed away. This death
aroused a wide public response since a number of media outlets stated that the
doctors with the ambulance had refused to take the patient to hospital saying
that they were not able to transport her there. That evening when the doctors
were called for the second time, they certified the actress’s death.
The president of the hospice support charity, ‘Vera’ (Faith) Neuter
Fesermesser, told the ASI correspondent that Ms Savanna’s relatives probably
understood that there was nothing the doctors could do. She added that often
medics responding to a call do not behave with sufficient tact towards the
relatives of a patient and fail to understand that psychological support is
needed in addition to medical help.
The president went on to say that in the capital as a whole there
are enough hospices for cancer patients who are dying but unfortunately not all
patients are informed about the availability of this kind of help. Furthermore,
not everyone wants to spend their last days in a medical institution. A special
outreach team might be sent to the home of the dying person which would include
a doctor, a social worker and a psychologist. Such a team helps the whole
family as well as the patient since if one person in the family is ill then the
whole family is. Nevertheless, not all Moscow hospices have such teams.
Furthermore, the teams go out on weekdays but the ambulance crews are not empowered
to transport the dying person to a hospice.
She added that the case of the actress was just one example of many
that do not attract the attention of the media showing that no system of
palliative care exists in Russia. Ms Fesermesser believes that this ought to
commence as soon as it becomes clear that an illness is untreatable.
Specialists in palliative medicine
should work with the patient and their family but there is no training for this
role at present in Russia…Also home nursing care should be organized for
seriously ill patients and it is necessary to increase the number of outreach
services in the capital’s hospices or to set them up in polyclinics.