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Department of Surgery & Hospital Palliative Care Team, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Dental Education Unit, Indira Gandhi Institute of Dental Sciences and Department of Medical Surgical Nursing, Kasturba Gandhi Nursing College of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Deemed University jointly organized the program on “Integrating palliative care in medical education and practice” on 14.03.2019 between 8.30 am to 1:00 pm. The program provided an introduction of palliative medicine to know about the various aspects of patient care and sharing moments of togetherness.

The event was inaugurated by Prof. S.C. Parija, Honorable Vice Chancellor, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth in the presence of Dr. Prashanth Rajagopalan, Vice Chairman, SBV. The distinguished guests of the day were Ms. Gilly Burn from UK and Prof. M.R. Rajagopal, a recipient of Padma Shri award and Chairman, Pallium India.

Padmashri Prof. M. R. Rajagopal, Chairman, Pallium India addressed on “Don’t torture the dying – End of life care ethics” with relevance to undergraduate students; He spoke on the significance of shifting to palliative care when curative therapy will no longer be helpful for the patient. He insisted on seeing the patient as a human being with values not merely on the disease parameters and the importance of understanding the psycho social issues faced by the patient.   He stressed on the qualities of the patient care team, the need for empathy and compassionate care than the rigid treatment protocols, the need for Continuum of care, empowerment and bereavement support of the patient’s family members. He stressed how important is to allow a patient to die with dignity, with the family members beside instead of isolating the patient in intensive care units in the end of life care.  Prof. Rajagopal also shared the information of Supreme Court verdict on advanced directives for Palliative care in India.

Ms. Gilly Burn, Director, Care Response International addressed on the integration of palliative medicine in undergraduate curriculum of health care personnel. She addressed on the importance of communication skill and attending to the patient’s needs. She explained on how a properly executed palliative care can add life to the days of the terminally ill patients, instead of adding just days to their life. She demonstrated on how to communicate with the patient and the family members of the patient, the mantra being “True listening is love in action”. She explained on the response strategies to patient’s information cues, emotional cues and the barriers.

 Prof. K.S. Reddy, Chairman, Hospital Palliative Care Team, MGMCRI addressed on Cancer and Palliative Medicine. A panel discussion on palliative medicine was moderated by Dr. Republica Sridhar, Founder & Managing Director, RMD pain and Palliative Care Trust, Chennai. The panelists were Dr. Mohanasundaram, President, Tamilnadu Palliative Care Society, Chennai, Dr. Karthik Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Athulya- Assisted Living, Chennai, Prof. Amirtha Ganesh, Head, Dept of Cardiology, MGMCRI and Dr. Annie, Associate Professor, Dept. of Anesthesia, MGMCRI. Athulya assisted living private limited along with Vista media played a video on the palliative care support rendered by them to the patients and created awareness among the undergraduate students.

This program was organized in association with the RMD Pain and Palliative Care Trust and Athulya Assisted Living Private Limited, the leading organizations for palliative care at Chennai and Vista Media. Pallium India, Non-Governmental organization which is in the forefront of palliative care in India was the event partner. Cancer relief India and Tamilnadu Palliative Care Society supported the event.

Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, the Deemed University with its constituent colleges – Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College & Research Institute, Indira Gandhi Institute of Dental Sciences and Kasturba Gandhi Nursing College have been in the forefront in making innovations in Health Professions Education. Palliative Medicine has been taught to the undergraduate students in the University along with the regular curriculum. Indira Gandhi Institute of Dental Sciences had registered copyright for “Credit Based Integrated Module on Palliative Care for undergraduate dental students” and Kasturba Gandhi Nursing College had been granted the copyright for “Incorporation of palliative care in nursing curriculum – SBV model”.  Both the books were released during the inaugural program.

Hospital Palliative Care Team, MGMC&RI has been existent in the Institute since 2017 and it is the only medical college in Tamilnadu and Puducherry, authorized to organize Certificate Course in Palliative Care approved by Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC).  Padmashri M.R. Rajagopal congratulated Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Deemed University for being in the forefront in integrating palliative care for undergraduate curriculum and wished them.