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Hospice of the North Coast Rings in 2017 with Malawi Global Partnership

Team will travel to Nkhoma hospital to assess and address hospice and palliative care needs

Carlsbad CA— Hospice of the North Coast (HNC) has put the precept, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” into energetic action by creating a Global Partnership (GP) with Nkhoma Hospital in Malawi, Africa. The intent is to respond to the desperate need in this impoverished, disease-rampant country for improved access to professional, compassionate hospice and palliative care. The GP, which was established in January 2016,  operates under the auspices of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Global Partners in Care program.

HNC Malawi Team Cristina Montanez, Shelly Dew, Sharon Lutz. Not pictured Cyndie Acosta

To research how Nkhoma Hospital’s Palliative care team provides nursing visits to more than 200 patients in remote villages,  a four-person HNC team led by Executive Director Sharon Lutz will journey to Malawi January 12-21, 2017. Accompanying Lutz are Director of Philanthropy Shelly Dew, Care Advocate Cristina Montanez and Volunteer Coordinator Cyndie Acosta.

Many of the terminal patients in Malawi rely solely on relatives, typically young children, to delivery the most basic, minimum care. Part of HNC’s GP mission will be to train adult volunteers in the villages to care for patients who are in the process of dying.

According to Lutz, the seeds of the partnership were planted a decade ago when she visited Malawi as part of a humanitarian mission. “I saw a country plagued by extreme poverty, lack of sanitation and extremely limited access to healthcare. In the midst of ongoing tragedy, I was struck by the kindness of the people; their resourcefulness, resiliency and devotion to family. I knew I had to help on an individual basis. Now, with the power of the GP, which was unanimously approved by our proactive, empathetic HNC Board; the support of our staff, many of whom donate a portion of their salary to fulfill basic needs such as medical supplies and equipment; and the anticipated generosity of the community; we are poised to help transform this landlocked island of poverty and ill health.”

HNC staff Skypes with Nkhoma Malawi team. (courtesy photo)

She says, “We call our project ‘Mission Possible’ because we fervently believe we can and will make a difference. In fact, we already are. We have underwritten a two-year fellowship and certification in hospice and palliative care for Nkhoma Hospital’s Assistant Medical Officer, Sam Kabota, MD. We are initiating an awareness program to share our continuing story of hope and health. We will launch a digital book on our website with chapters forthcoming in serial format.”

The GP represents a symbiotic relationship that will enhance and enrich HNC’s home community. Through it, traditional and western medicine will intersect; professionals and volunteers from each entity will complement each other in their approach to treating the terminally ill.

Lutz emphasizes, “Through the resourcefulness of the Nkhoma Hospital staff and the developing palliative team, we can problem-solve together. Their creativity in managing symptoms will be a learning experience for HNC that will benefit our staff, clients, families and the community at large.”

About Hospice of the North Coast

Nonprofit Hospice of the North Coast was established in 1980 to fill the need for comprehensive, compassionate hospice care in North County San Diego. Since its inception, it has grown in services, staff and clients. It currently provides a full spectrum of programs to terminally ill patients and their families, including bereavement support, as well as stabilizing care at Carlsbad-based Pacifica House, North County’s first and only hospice residence.