Fri, Apr 01, 2005 - Page 2 News List

MOI takes `pro-life' stance on PVS

DEDICATED TREATMENT The ministry points out recent innovations in the treatment of medical conditions such as Terri Schiavo's, and says Taiwan's hospices are well-prepared


The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday said that there are enough beds at hospices around the country for patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).

On Wednesday, a local Chinese-language newspaper reported a medical breakthrough where several PVS patients woke up after a nerve-cell stimulating chip was implanted into patients' neck area.

These cases, conducted by Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, took place about a year ago and were recently released by the hospital.

In response to the report, the MOI provided information about the welfare options offered to PVS patients to give the public a better understanding of how the government is taking care of these patients.

According to the MOI' s Department of Statistics, as of Dec. 30, there were a total of 4,511 PVS patients in Taiwan.

Creation Social Welfare Foundation, which has dedicated itself to taking care of PVS patients for many years, now offers hospices in eleven counties and cities to provide full-time care for the patients.

Out of the 472 available beds, only 293 are occupied, leaving 179 empty. In addition, there are three private hospices, which are located in Taipei County, Hsinchu County and Tainan City respectively, which provide an additional 164 beds; of which 118 are currently occupied and 46 are unoccupied.

According to the Ministry' s Department of Social Affairs, PVS patients are categorized as mentally and physically disabled patients and receive the same welfare as other types of patients under the categories.

"The government provides financial assistance to middle and low income households who have family members who are disabled," said Chen Chin-yu (陳瑾瑜), an official with the department.


For a patient that is taken care of at home, a family may receive financial assistance between NT$3,000 to NT$7,000 per month.

For a patient that is admitted to a hospice, a family may be reimbursed up to half of the total cost incurred on a monthly basis.

All financial assistance will be assessed by social workers who work for local governments.

The department also said that due to the special care needed by PVS patients, which is different from other mentally and physically disabled patients, the growth of private hospices for PVS patients is rather slow. However, civic entities that are interested in setting up such hospices will receive assistance and advice from local governments.


Reacting to the controversial legal debate surrounding the Terri Shiavo case, a long-term PVS patient in the US whose feeding tube was removed at her husband's will, Creation Social Welfare Foundation said that it takes a pro-life stance.

According to a public relations representative with the foundation yesterday, the foundation has been approached by Taiwanese media about its take on the issue.

The foundation stated that life is precious and one should not give up the right to survive.

There is always hope, said the foundation, and the families of PVS patients may not make the choice to end the patient's life.

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