Today was another awesome day in Argentina! Today we listened to a lecture about the Argentinian healthcare system, and then we visited two different community health centers and a hospice. Today was a very special and meaningful day for everyone on the trip in different ways.
The hospice we visited is called Hospice Buen Samaritano after the story of the good Samaritan in the Bible. Dr. Matías Najun specializes in palliative care and is in charge of the hospice. He gave us a wonderful presentation about what exactly palliative care is and why it is important. Research has even shown that those who receive palliative care when they are in the end stages of their lives live, on average, three months longer than those who do not receive this specialized type of care.
In the US, we have palliative care facilities, but they are (from my experience) are nothing like this hospice. At Hospice Buen Samaritano, there are only six rooms for patients, who they call “guests.” They focus their efforts on creating a home for the guests and maintaining a family-type environment so that the guests feel loved and cared for when they pass. Dr. Najun shared a few stories of guests that had stayed at the hospice, and they all changed their attitudes and outlooks on life and death once they came to the facility.
The care given at Hospice Buen Samaritano is completely free, and the hospice is run completely on donations and volunteers. Donations pay for the upkeep of the property, which includes the house, a chapel, and gardens, but they also pay for all of the food and medicine for the home. The volunteers at Hospice Buen Samaritano range from teenagers all the way through adults, and they spend around four hours per week cooking, cleaning, bathing guests, tending to the gardens, and doing other chores around the property. Dr. Najun emphasized the importance of volunteers as opposed to people who are paid to work at the hospice because it makes sure that the people doing the work actually care and want to be there. This also allows the people to bring their personal lives into the hospice, making it more family-like.
Visiting Hospice Buen Samaritano really showed me both as a nursing student and a person how important it is to treat everyone with the same kindness and care, no matter their age, stage of life, or disability/condition. Before visiting the hospice, I was kind of opposed to working in geriatrics/palliative care, but it is definitely something I will reconsider now. I was incredibly impressed by Hospice Buen Samaritano and I wish that the US had more hospices like this one.
Tomorrow we will be listening to a lecture from someone in the Ministry of Health, and we are going to the Immigration Museum. Check back to read all about it!
*Picture shows the outside of Hospice Buen Samaritano.