Palliative Care Clinic starts in National Cancer Institute, Maharagama, Sri Lanka

Written by: APHN Editorial Team – Sri Lanka (Cancer Care Association, Sri Lanka)

This is a write up on the inauguration of  the Palliative Care Consultative Service & Palliative Care Clinic at the National Cancer Institute, Maharagama (NCIM).

Initial Discussions and Preparations

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After the third module of the LIEN Collaborative for Palliative Care Training of Trainers program held in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute Sri Lanka (NCI), National Cancer Control Program Sri Lanka (NCCP) and the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) held at the NCIM, the participants of the program commenced discussions to establish a Palliative Care Consultative & Palliative Care Clinic at the NCIM.

The articipants of the Training of Trainers Program from NCIM are, Dr Sujeeva Weerasingha, Dr Prasad Abeysinghe, Dr Kanthi Perera, Dr N. Jayakumaran, Dr Lakshman Obeysekara, Dr Sanath Wanigasooriya, Dr Mahanada Udukala , Dr  A. Parthiepan, Dr Samadhi Rajapaksa, Dr Sidath Wijesekara, Dr Ranjan Vidanage, N/O (Nursing Officer) Samindra Ranasinghe, N/O Priyanka kasthuriarachchi, N/O Nirosha Herath.

There was an initial discussion among the resource personnel held at the NCIM counseling center to ensure a wholesome approach towards the initiative. The staff of the NCIM who were supporting the initial preparations were the Director, Consultant Anesthetists NCI, Consultant Physicians NCI, all Other Consultants NCI, Medical Officer (MO) –Nutrition NCI, the speech therapist, counseling Unit, other nursing staff. The staff of Shantha Sevana Hospice also supported the initiative during this stage.

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After the discussions held during the initial gatherings, a final discussion was held with the Director, NCIM, Dr. G. Wijesooriya, where procedures and logistics for the establishment and the operations of the Palliative Care Consultative & Palliative Care (PC) Clinic was finalized. The consultant oncologist Dr. Sujeeva Weerasinghe was elected as the Team Lead of the Palliative Care team at the NCIM. The imperative points discussed were as follows:

  • How to establish a PC clinic, PC Unit & other PC facilities
  • To have an internal circular among the Consultants of NCI, regarding PC facilities available at the NCI
  • Circulate the referral form for the PC clinic to all Consultants & Medical Officers (MOs) at NCI and to get them familiarize with the form
  • Circulate an article about Palliative Medicine among MOs of the NCIM
  • Drafted a letter of request to the director NHSL, to get Dr. Hemantha Kumarihami (Consultant Anesthetist) and her team for consultation on Pain Management at the PC clinic
  • Conduct palliative care teaching sessions for the MOs/NOs at NCIM

The Commencement of the Service.

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After many rounds of discussions and preparation, the Palliative Care Consultative & Palliative Care Clinic at the NCIM was finally established on 25th August 2015 in Room No. 119 of the NCIM. The unit will be under the leadership of Dr. Sujeeva Weerasinghe. Consultation and registration of the first patient was also done by her as a mark to the opening of the unit.

The first activity of the unit was a visit to the Shantha Sevana Hospice, where most patients will be referred to. It is situated near the NCIM. Dr. G. Wijesooriya (Director, NCI), Dr. Ishani Fernando (Director, NCCP) and other attendees of the Master Trainer program graced this visitation trip.

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After the hospice visit, a week long training session on palliative care was conducted by the unit at the NCIM with the participation of 43 doctors, in order to raise awareness about the importance of palliative care to the medical community. During this training session, the attendees were taught the following:

  • To act as a team leader to provide palliative care in each clinical team /unit/ward under each consultant.
  • To arrange referral to the PC clinic through the consultant in charge
  • How to properly disseminate information across departments using the PC referral form.
  • How to co-ordinate and assist with the work at the PC clinic.
  • Active management of all symptomatic patients with help of other team members to improve the quality of life of each patient
  • How to improve awareness of the concept of palliative care among colleagues and co- workers
  • To continuously update their knowledge in palliative care

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This start of this clinic in Sri Lanka’s National Cancer Institute marked an important milestone in the palliative care movement in Sri Lanka. The APHN will also like to congratulate the team for their achievement in setting up the clinic.

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