MIRI: Palliative Care Association Miri (PCAM) that provides free services to terminally ill patients and their family members has opened permanent premises at No. 406, Piasau Edar Road, Piasau Garden on Nov 17.
They call it ‘a permanent home for the community’, having rented two houses and squatted at a building in Miri Hospital compound since their setup 11 years ago. The public, staff and volunteers interviewed were happy with the acquisition.
Those interviewed were former director of Miri Hospital Dr Uma Devi, AT Dunia Sdn Bhd director Bruce Chai. PCAM volunteers and pioneers Dr Loh Yunn Hua (president), Jacqueline Buri (vice-president and PCAM chief coordinator) Veronica Wong (retired dental nurse) and Melissa Desmond Reynold (PCAM full time nurse).
PCAM supporter Chai has helped them move many times and assisted in many ways. He was happy PCAM had a permanent place. He was grateful to the PCAM team for providing palliative care to his late brother-in-law Tho Kien Ann before he died from cancer at the age of 27 about six years ago.
“It was taxing emotionally and physically. We might experience once, but they have to provide palliative care on a daily basis which is no easy task,” Chai said.
Dr Uma said Mirians are lucky to have PCAM and a committed team of volunteers and staff. She said an increasing number of people were getting non-communicable diseases like cancer.
“A lot of young people can’t cope with stress, eating a lot of processed food and don’t care what they eat or do – resorting to things like drug abuse and smoking,” she said, wanting young people to be healthy and know how to care for ageing parents and other family members. All PCAM staff and volunteers interviewed were happy for the permanent home and thanked the supporters.
“This morning the volunteers are so happy. One person can’t do so much but combined efforts can achieved more. We have good leadership with Dr Loh as president,” said Wong, who joined PCAM 11 years ago after retiring from Mercy Malaysia.
Jacqueline hoped for more volunteers as the services required are endless from administrative works, accounting and counselling to craftmaking, fundraising and so on.
“We need more volunteers including those with medical knowledge,” she said.
On why she became a volunteer, Jacqueline said: “Being a volunteer is to pass on a blessing that has been given to us in a different way and I feel that I have been blessed by God with a family and children.”
“That makes me happy and it is a great satisfaction to do things for other people. Their smile is precious,” Jacqueline said.
Melissa, a former nurse with a specialist centre in Kuching, has no regrets joining PCAM despite getting a lower salary than in her previous job.
“Our goals as nurses are to help patients but in hospital we are tied up with paper work, working as directed with little time for patients. In palliative care we know our clients, and find ways to help solve their problems including financial ones. Another joy is knowing that patients died peacefully,” she said.
Melissa and two other nurses are accompanied by doctors on home visits in rural areas on the third week of each month. In Miri they call on patients from Monday to Friday except on Tuesday when they are at the daycare centre for patients to have massages, haircuts, games and fellowship. In the afternoon they will be at Miri Hospital’s Palliative Unit.
Family doctor Dr Loh said: “We thank all those who donated and supported us. We still need support from the public. We are short of funds and need RM150,000 a month to pay our housing loan, employ nurses, buy medical equipment and consumables. We also need a 4-wheel-drive to reach remote areas in Batu Niah,” Loh said, adding that PCAM is working hard to raise funds through a marathon and annual dinner.
PCAM was founded in 2005 by expatriate Dr Mieke van de Leemput from Holland, the first organisation in Sarawak to provide free palliative care to the public. It enables volunteers and medical personnel to visit terminally ill patients in their homes to manage symptoms like pain and bleeding, guide family members on how to cope, and give advice on diet and more.
Medical equipment available for loan to patients include nursing beds, ripple mattresses, reclinable wheelchairs, nebulizers and oxygen concentrators. PCAM services an average of 50 patients monthly.
For further enquiries or to donate, call the centre at 012-845 6480, Richard Wong at 013-830 3827 or Vivian at 012-877 1027.