Pgimer in Chandigarh is a tertiary care institute of national importance. The department of radiotherapy is responsible for radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer patients, teaching students at postgraduate level and conducting clinical and translational research in the field of cancer. For the last two decades, the centre has had a dedicated palliative care service for terminally ill cancer patients.
The department is well equipped with the latest technology for radiation planning and therapy, including brachytherapy. It also treats patients by chemotherapy. With the help of the local Red Cross, it runs a palliative careout-patient department, home-care services and a 20-bed hospice. There are two trained palliative care specialists along with dedicated nurses and social workers. In addition, radiotherapy residents are rotated in palliative care and the faculty members trained to provide basic palliative care. A certificate course on 'essentials of palliative care' is conducted annually to train other physicians and nurses.
The core competence of the faculty is in radiation oncology, both teletherapy and brachytherapy. While radiation is used for advanced curative intent, it is also amply used for palliation of symptoms. Hypofractionation and high-dose-rate brachytherapy is routinely practised. In addition, all radiation oncologists are trained in basic palliative care through a national level course. Other specialists are available on call from the existing staff of the hospital. The College of Nursing is associated with the department for training postgraduate students of oncology nursing.
Supportive and Palliative Medicine
The palliative care out-patient department is run from the radiotherapy out-patient department and the same case records are shared between the two. The oncologist and palliative care specialists work in tandem and there is continuity of care. The expert opinions of a dietitian, psychologists, surgeons, physiotherapists and other specialists are available when required. Volunteer groups provide the much-needed socio-economic support. The home care team serves patients living within a radius of about 20 km. The hospice trains caregivers while their patients are admitted there. The patient and their families do not feel abandoned when they are referred for palliative care.