Ex-pastor takes over at hospice

2010-02-15 00:00

MSUNDUZI Hospice has a new chief executive officer. Warren Oxford-Huggett told The Witness on Friday he is looking forward to new challenges since he left Estcourt Hospice.

Oxford-Huggett said that looking ahead, children and TB are by necessity the focus of the quality palliative care they offer at the hospice, which serves the urban areas of Pietermaritzburg and greater Edendale.

He is thrilled that Msunduzi Hospice was recently awarded sought-after accreditation by the Council for Health Service Accreditation South Africa.

While cancer used to be the core illness that Hospice dealt with, this has been overtaken by HIV and Aids, said Oxford-Huggett.

The incidence of tuberculosis is increasing steadily, especially with extensively drug-resistant TB and multi-drug-resistant TB, he added; while patients may be properly diagnosed and given the right medication, it remains a problem that many stop their treatment when they begin to feel better.

A former Anglican pastor, Oxford-Hugget said children remain a huge area of concern. Msunduzi Hospice has more than 200 children on its books, receiving either care because they are ill or psycho-social interventions because their parents are ill.

He said that during the next five years, the focus should be on TB and children.

“Palliative care for the aged is a major new trend in Europe now, and I suspect it will get here eventually. It is a huge area of concern, but for now TB and children are overpowering it.”

Oxford-Hugget paid tribute to the hospice’s dedicated core group of volunteers. “They are absolutely wonderful. I cannot overemphasise their contribution.” But, he said, it needs volunteers prepared to work in the afternoons, especially those who speak Zulu.

He said he sees the biggest challenges for Msunduzi Hospice being finances and resources.

“But I’m an optimist. I believe the future is bright,” he added.

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