On November 20, 2017 I attended the screening of the film “Hippocratic: Global Insight Into Palliative Care”, presented by the Institute for Life Course and Aging at University of Toronto.

BScN, RN, GNC(C) President,
Eldercare Home Health Inc.

Poster for Hippocratic: Global Insights into Palliative Care Poster for Hippocratic: Global Insights into Palliative Care

The film follows the work and career of Dr. MR Rajagopal, of India, as he moves from reluctant medical student to global leader in Palliative Care.

The film’s central subject, Dr. Rajagopal, uses excerpts from the autobiography ‘The Story of my experiments with truth’ by Mahatma Gandhi, to persuade his audience that more care services are needed, better care services are needed and perseverance on behalf of those who suffer, is an imperative.

Dr. Rajagopal’s point of view is that we are all connected to one another, that communities can be healthy environments and that caring should always be central in any practitioner’s plan of care.

The film weaves elements of the Hippocratic oath, Gandhi’s legacy, the influence of politics, of poverty, of care, love of country, and the benefit of education into a 75 minute point of view as to how to go about achieving a satisfying professional life in the service of others.

The film follows Dr.Rajagopal and his team on home and facility visits as he tends to those in pain. He demonstrates that there is more common experience than would be expected between relatively well – resourced North Americans and the impoverished Indians; patients’ lives can be ruined medically, socially and financially by not addressing their health care needs and suffering.

Improvement of care services for people needing palliative care and pain management.

Dr. Rajagopal has worked intensively over his entire career for the improvement of care services to people needing palliative care and pain management. His work has included political activism, speaking to international audiences, mentoring students, establishing new facilities, championing new charities, all in support of these ideals.

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In one inspiring story, Dr. Rajagopal presents the case of a former patient whom he assisted to open a small coffee stand in the hospital where he was treated. The coffee stand enables the former patient to earn a living and have his children returned to his home, from the orphanage he was forced to send them to when the cost of dealing with his pain and disability impoverished his family.

His new business enabled him to reunite his family and afford their schooling – even his wife is able to begin schooling (something that was denied to her as a youngster).

He reminds the viewer of the tenets of medicine; cure sometimes, comfort often, care always.

The evening was completed with a discussion between audience and panel members, Dr. Leah Steinberg of the Temmy Latner Palliative Care team and Dr. Jenny Lau of the Princess Margaret Hospital acute palliative care team. Conversations ranged from the overcrowding of emergency rooms for non-urgent care, to the emerging model of developing ‘caring communities’.

Insights into palliative care

We all share Dr. Rajagopal’s point of view that it is a privilege to have people share their most important concerns and let us be part of their lives.

If you have an opportunity, see the film. Dr. Rajagopal is practical, hard working, humble, bright, humorous and charming. The film may encourage you to examine your own practice and the delivery of health care around you – you will want to heed the closing advice of the film;

In a gentle way, you can shake the world

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