Article written by Marita Linkson (APHN Volunteer)
This is the first in a mini-interview series featuring members of the 18th Council of the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN).
Dr Rumalie (Mae) Corvera [note]Dr Corvera is Vice Chairman, and Medical Coordinator Supportive and Integrative Care, at the Department of Occupational and Family Medicine at the Asian Hospital and Medical Centre, where she practises Palliative Medicine, and is a member of three committees: Health Ethics; Cancer; and Pain. She is founding President and CEO of The Ruth Foundation for Palliative and Hospice Care , founding Board Member and current President of the Philippine Society of Palliative and Hospice Medicine, and Board Member and Secretary of the National Palliative and Hospice Care Council of The Philippines. She is also a member of the Palliative Care Resource-Stratified Guideline Expert Panel for the American Society of Clinical Oncology.[/note] was recently elected to the APHN Council, and represents The Philippines.
I asked Dr Corvera about her palliative medicine experience and influences, and where she sees her role on APHN Council [note]The APHN Council consists of 7 members to be appointed by sectors on a rotation to be determined alphabetically according to the name of the sectors (Constitution 12.2a), 7 elected members, and 6 Co-opted members.[/note].
- What can you tell me about your role establishing the Home Care and Hospice Program, University of Perpetual Help (Dalta) Medical Center.
After my Fellowship training in Supportive Palliative and Hospice Care, I was invited, along with a colleague, to help set up the HCH Perpetual Help; there was an initial proposal authored by Family Medicine Specialist, Dr Elinore Alba. The Medical Director, Perpetual Help, asked us to help with the implementation; which was rewarding in itself; but to see that it actually could be done, despite a few challenges, including slow acceptance by fellow physicians and budgetary constraints, was the most fulfilling part – coupled with the feedback from patients and families. They expressed gratitude for being cared for by a team from the hospital in the comfort of their own homes, and for us caring enough to see them where they lived.
- What do you think are the specific challenges for providing hospice and palliative care in The Philippines?
The lack of Government Support and Community Awareness. The Medical Community is also still in the uphill process of integrating it into “standard practice,” but I believe we are gradually getting there.
- What do you hope to achieve in your capacity as an APHN Councillor?
I would be most grateful to help in the area of training and education; not just by teaching, but by helping APHN to promote standards and develop references and resources for training, especially for our less developed Asia Pacific country members. I am also willing to be an advocate for establishing and empowering “Compassionate Communities” in the Asia Pacific region, in line with APHN Council’s vision and mission.
- What and/or who inspired you to specialise in Palliative Medicine…
My training at the country’s largest government hospital, Philippine General Hospital, where patients are often told “nothing else can be done,” and the life legacy of Palliative and Hospice Care Pioneer, Dr Josefina Magno.
…and what would you say to doctors or medical students who might be considering this path?
The APHN Council consists of 7 members to be appointed by sectors on a rotation to be determined alphabetically according to the name of the sectors (Constitution 12.2a), 7 elected members, and 6 Co-opted members.
That a critical core in the practice of Medicine is the embracing of true compassion…and to quote Joan Halifax.:
“First, compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. It is that ability to really stand strong and to recognize also that I’m not separate from this suffering. But that is not enough, because compassion means that we aspire, we actually aspire to transform suffering. And if we’re so blessed, we engage in activities that transform suffering. But compassion has another component, and that component is really essential. That component is that we cannot be attached to outcome.”