Care Initiatives Hospice provides international assistance

(Pictured: Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU) Programs Manager Susan receiving the medical sundries donated by Care Initiatives Hospice.)

It’s often said that it takes a special kind of person to serve as a hospice caregiver. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that certain birds of a feather flock together even if they are half a world apart as demonstrated by staff with Care Initiatives Hospice, volunteers with Indiana Hospice and members of the newly formed Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) – Foundation for Hospice.

“My neighbor introduced me to her cousin, Roberta Spencer, who’s a volunteer for the Indiana Hospice,” explains Social Worker Judy Porter. Roberta also became involved in setting up a program in Uganda called The Road to Hope, an organization dedicated to helping children orphaned by parents who have died of terminal illness. The Road to Hope provides schooling, room and board for these orphaned children.[JB1] 

“The Road to Hope is a part of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) – Indiana Foundation for Hospice,” explains Judy. “Roberta goes to Uganda every year to assist with and assess the on-going needs of the Road to Hope program and helps with PCAU.  When she, or others, go, they take supplies and we have been able to donate quite a few of those supplies.”

 “We occasionally have extra supplies – those that are leftover and unused from our various Care Initiatives Hospice teams around Iowa. The items we can’t utilize here are often of great use to the PCAU,” explains Care Initiatives Hospice Team Director, Jennifer Hopley. Items vary from lotion and bandages to more technical medical items.

Recent items including incontinent and personal hygiene care supplies, wound dressings, catheter supplies, irrigation supplies, nutritional supplements and more were collected from all the CI hospice offices for donation. “In addition, whenever there is an opportunity, we try to fundraise to send money to the (PCAU),” Judy adds.

Roberta recently made her annual trip to Uganda where she met Dianah (pictured) who is a nurse and works for Hospice Africa Uganda. Roberta noted that the bag was too heavy for Dianah to carry in one trip, so she had to take items in smaller loads to dispense throughout the country.

Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 1 doctor to 25,000 patients and 1 nurse to 11,000 patients. Limited healthcare and resources leave approximately 80 percent of cancer patients with pain at the end stages of life. If family members are lucky enough to have a pair of the plastic medical gloves, they wash them after every use and reused until they disintegrate.  Basic care and medical supplies that are standard care for us are scarce throughout the country.