Every year, several thousand Poles die in pain and suffering because they cannot wait for hospice help. Just because hospices have admission limits.
The last week of Mr. Mieczysław Wiśniewski’s life was a nightmare. The man suffered greatly from the rapidly spreading cancer. The hospice refused to accept me. Reason? The limits have run out and there are no places left. – The lady who answered said the next appointment was in about 3 weeks. I laughed and said that “the client won’t last this long,” says Piotr Wiśniewski, Mr. Mieczysław’s son.
The patient needed painkillers immediately. The son went with his father to the nearest hospital, but the emergency room doctor there did not admit them either. – He said that the hospital has not been a charity for 30 years and that the family should take care of it. When he saw that it was C20 (disease code – editor’s note), malignant rectal cancer, it was as if he didn’t want to see the human being – recalls Mr. Mieczysław’s son.
This is not an exaggerated story. Terminally ill patients, mainly those with cancer, are sometimes unwanted by the health care system. The Oncological Diagnosis and Treatment Card (DiLO) is no longer valid here. Hospitals often do not want to admit them, and emergency services refuse to come.
– A long-term care colleague called me and said: Kasia, this lady is vomiting blood, what should I do? I say: put a feeding tube on her. And she didn’t have such a special bag, so they put a bucket of pickled cucumbers around her neck. And so in the 21st century, in 2020, people are dying in Poland – says Katarzyna Kałduńska, president of the Hospice House Foundation in Pruszcz Gdański.
They hope for the abolition of limits in health care
They die in humiliation and great suffering, because hospices usually have painkillers, for example in drips, which need to be administered to patients, but due to finite limits they cannot be given. Mr. and Mrs. Małgorzata and Tomasz Formejstra recently said goodbye to their father. The hospice couldn’t take care of him for long either.
– The pain started to get so bad that he lay on his knees all day and all night, curled up, and we didn’t know how to help him, because the painkillers, which were very strong, didn’t help – recalls Mrs. Małgorzata.
In such a situation, hospitals must admit the patient, but this is much more expensive than hospice care.
The coalition pact concluded by the new parliamentary majority includes a provision on the abolition of limits in health care. The vice-president of the Polish Society of Palliative Medicine, Dr. Hab., is very much counting on the implementation of this postulate. Tomasz Dzierżanowski.
– I see that the coalition, which is preparing to take over the management of the health care system, agrees to this. I think this should be the first thing that should happen on January 1, 2024: to abolish the limits – says Dzierżanowski.
Main photo source: Fakty TVN