A severe shortage of hospice services in hospitals and health centers across the nation could have a severe impact on the elderly and terminally ill patients, the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation said yesterday.
“Nearly 86 percent of respondents to a survey conducted last month by the foundation said they would prefer painless hospice care at home or in local communities, rather than being kept alive by a ventilator. However, whether that hope will be dashed may hinge entirely on where they live,” foundation chairwoman Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君) told a news conference in Taipei.
Liu said that while it is common knowledge that the nation is rapidly becoming a “super-aged society,” in an evaluation of the availability, accessibility and policy of hospice care services, just two out of 19 cities and counties scored more than 41 out of 50 points — the minimum requirement for a five-star rating by the foundation.
In addition to the two five-starred administrative regions, Greater Taoyuan and Yilan County, five regions earned four stars: Greater Taichung, Chiayi and Hsinchu cities, and Changhua and Hualien counties, Liu said.
“It is worth noting that Taipei, despite being equipped with relatively abundant end-stage palliative care resources, scored just 30 on the test and was given a three-star rating, as its relatively large elderly population of 360,000 people has resulted in a high demand for end-of-life care,” Liu said, adding that Yulin County was rated the lowest, because it was lacking in all aspects of palliative care.
Another pressing problem is the wide gap in hospice care resources between cities and counties, Liu said, citing statistics that showed each hospice care facility in Chiayi City is responsible for an average of 189 cancer patients, for example, compared with 977 per facility in Yunlin County and an average of 364 per facility nationwide.
“In addition, about eight hospice palliative care beds are available per 100,000 residents in Hualien County, while people living in Nantou County have no such facilities at all,” Liu said.
More troubling, Liu said, is that nine out of the nation’s 50 “sub-medical regions” — population centers within larger medical service areas — were found to be without palliative care, lacking hospice beds, community services or home care options, Liu said.
Three are in Taitung County, two in Pingtung County and one each in Miaoli, Nantou, Yulin and Hualien counties, she added.
Foundation deputy executive director Phoebe Chen (陳芙媺) said its researchers have determined the root causes of the problems, which include indifference from local government leadership and reluctance among hospitals to promote hospice care because it is less lucrative than other hospital services.
“So far, only the governments of Taoyuan, Changhua, New Taipei City and Nantou have endeavored to promote community-based palliative care, while others rely solely on the services provided by the National Health Insurance program and have done little to build a hospice care network,” Chen said.
Despite the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s oft-touted efforts in facilitating hospice care, Chen said that just three of the nation’s 27 ministry-affiliated hospitals have palliative care beds, which are also absent in established cancer-oriented medical institutions such as Taipei’s Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital and the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City.
The foundation urged local governments and the ministry to prioritize the provision of palliative care.
Senior judges yesterday met to discuss the constitutionality of a law that makes adultery a criminal offense, before being ordered by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) to set a date for a constitutional interpretation within the next month. The judges met to discuss Article 239 of the Criminal Code on offenses against marriage and family, after 18 judges had called for a constitutional interpretation of the issue. Taipei District Court Judge Lin Meng-huang (林孟皇) said that while he had previously tried adultery cases and never questioned the law, his feelings changed when trying a case last year involving baseball star Wang
Instead of hating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), help change it, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, as he urged young people to join efforts to reform the party. As the nation marked Youth Day on Sunday, Chiang said in a Facebook post that he wanted to remind people that “the KMT used to be very young.” Now, when people think of the KMT, they equate it with older people, he wrote. “Even if [the KMT] is a 100-year-old party, it must maintain a young mentality, and understand what young people want and what they want the KMT to do,” Chiang wrote.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time