Gov’t to test at-home care for terminally ill patients

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Gov’t to test at-home care for terminally ill patients

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced Sunday that a number of medical facilities across the country will soon provide hospice services for terminal cancer patients in their homes.

The project, set to launch March 2, will be part of a year-long demonstration seeking to officially legalize home care services.

While only cancer patients will be eligible to join this year’s project, provided by 17 different hospitals and clinics, the Health Ministry said terminal patients with AIDS, chronic liver disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will likely be included late next year.

In explaining why the government has decided to provide care services at patients’ homes, the ministry said in a press release that most patients approaching the end of life have expressed hopes of receiving medical support in their own homes, citing a 2012 poll conducted by the Korean Society for Hospice and Palliative Care.

According to the survey of 465 cancer patients across 19 local medical facilities, 75.9 percent said they wish to stay at home, while 89.1 percent said they were interested in receiving palliative care from their homes if they could.

All cancer patients joining the new initiative will be visited by medical caregivers at least once a week. Telephone counseling will be available around the clock. For every visit by a nurse, the patient will be required to pay 5,000 won (about $4). For a visit by a nurse, doctor and a licensed social welfare worker, the payment will increase to 13,000 won.

Seventeen facilities including the Catholic University of Korea Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Korea University Guro Hospital and Seoul Bukbu Hospital will provide the services.

For more information, visit the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service’s website at www.hira.or.kr (Korean only).

BY HWANG SOO-YEON AND LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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