"Home Hospitals" Assist Patients Until the Last Minute

Founder Sees It as Effective Way to Combat Euthanasia

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ROME, JULY 22, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Aiming to provide up-to-the-last-minute care, a group in Italy is offering free at-home care for terminal patients.

The Italian National Tumor Association (NTA) already has «virtual» hospitals in 21 provinces of the country.

Oncologist Franco Pannuti, founder and president of the nonprofit NTA, explained that his group tries to combine care for suffering patients with research into anti-tumor medications. It does this through the «home hospital.»

«A hospital is taken to the home of the sufferer,» Dr. Pannuti said. «It is not the patient who goes to the hospital, but the hospital that, with all its instruments, all its specializations, goes to the patient’s home for free, until the last day — suffice it that he/she or his/her family request it.»

Twenty-one small «virtual hospitals» are operating in as many Italian provinces with the cooperation of 145 doctors, 48 nurses, and 38 workers. They go to the patient’s home and look after him or her until the last day, keeping the family doctor informed.

«The home hospital does not exclude anyone; more importantly, it must involve everyone because, in the last stage of their life, cancer patients need everyone, including psychological and moral support,» Pannuti said.

«The core of our home hospital is a struggle without quarter against euthanasia understood as anticipated death,» the NTA founder said. «We want to guarantee, for free, up to the last day, a worthy life to cancer patients in advanced or very advanced stages, close to their family.»

«Life is a sacred and inviolable value,» Pannuti added. «One of the ways to combat euthanasia and anticipated death, which is murder or suicide, whatever the preference, is to prepare and so help the patient, to be close to him/her, to control his/her pain — something that can be done in 98-99% of cases — and to help the family, to have a global view of the problem.»

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