Modern medicine has established as its foremost goal, to cure disease. Unfortunately, this is not always attainable. This does not mean, however, that pursing the initial goal of cure should undermine the concerted efforts to control the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering of patients and their families throughout the disease process, including at the terminal stages of life.
The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is a medical and psychosocial challenge, for the patient, the family and the medical staff. Most cancer patients can be cared at home during a greater part of their disease trajectory. For some of the patients, however, home care is not possible, especially during the more advanced stages of the disease.
Our vision is to create a facility that will constitute a base for the Negev Palliative Care Service, offering a continuum of care between the hospital and the community.
Palliative Care in the Negev
The population of the Negev totals about 750,000 people. In the Soroka University Medical Center, approximately 1,100 new cancer patients are diagnosed each year. In the Negev today there are approximately 10,000 active cancer patients. The region is served by two oncology services: one in the Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, and the other in the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon.
The development of an inpatient hospice will be an important step in creating a comprehensive palliative care service center for the Negev, to bring palliative care at the highest possible level to the population of the South of Israel in particular and to improve palliative care in the whole of Israel in general.
The importance of Palliative Care
The terminally-ill patient and his/her family often experience a sense of loss of control. Much emphasis placed on curative aspect of the disease treatment; little is focused on the maintenance of an acceptable quality of life throughout the disease process. Palliative care deals with symptom control throughout the course of the disease and should be offered throughout the disease trajectory. Its primary goal is symptom management and to provide emotional-social and spiritual support for the individual and family, with an emphasis on maximizing quality of life. This profession is still in its initial worldwide and only in two countries (Australia and England) is there a recognized specialization program.
The principles of palliative care are to:
Relieve pain and other physical symptoms
Provide mental and spiritual care and support of the patient and his/her caregivers
Allow the patient to make the most of the remainder of his/her life
Establish a support system for the patient's family, helping to cope with the treatment and the bereavement process
Value life and regard as a natural process