Lake Chapala Hospice


hospiceLake Chapala Hospice is a community based, nondenominational, non-profit organization, which offers in-home hospice and palliative care to the English-speaking community. Palliative care shifts the focus away from treatment and healing, and onto symptom relief, pain management, and comfort care. Such care has only been legal in Mexico since 2009. Patients whose life expectancy does not exceed six months are eligible for hospice, regardless of age, race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disease, or ability to pay.  

In addition, hospice offers comfort and support to the families and/or loved ones in their tasks as caregivers, and will act as liaison contacts with family members who are not here at lakeside.

Lake Chapala Hospice grew out of a Conscious Community meeting, held earlier this year, whose task was to find ways to create a more caring and supportive community here at lakeside. Since that time, Erik Slebos, who is a certified grief counselor, has pulled together a team of dedicated volunteers, several of whom have NOB hospice experience. In addition, the Articles for Incorporation as a non-profit (AC) have been drafted; By-Laws are in place, as is a Board of Directors.

A local business in Chapala has offered meeting space and telephone answering support, and a team of nurses are prepared to provide bedside assistance to patients. Protocol and the patient care-plan will be developed on an individual case basis by the interdisciplinary hospice team, which meets weekly. The hospice physician will, of course, be part of that team. The group of 15 volunteers continues to meet twice monthly, and is expanding in number with new volunteers.

The December 2010 issue of International Living Magazine cited Lake Chapala as the largest ex-pat community in the world. The need for hospice care seemed obvious to those of us involved in the effort to bring it into existence. However, Lake Chapala Hospice will rely for its funding on donations from members of the community it serves. This makes community input a top priority.

During the month of October, readers will encounter a Lake Chapala Hospice table at both the Eco Organic Market in Centro Laguna Mall and at the Lake Chapala Society Health Fair. In addition, volunteers from Lake Chapala Hospice have been (and will continue to be) surveying individual members of our lakeside community. The survey questionnaire asks only five questions and takes less than three minutes to complete. Readers are invited to visit to take the survey. There is a space on the survey form to ask questions or leave comments, all of which are most welcome.

If the survey results support the need for Lake Chapala Hospice, the AC Articles will be filed, an intensive (3 day) training course will be given to all hospice volunteers, and fund raising will begin. Reader participation in the survey is vital. You will determine whether the English-speaking community in Lake Chapala can obtain hospice care for the foreseeable future.

Valerie Siegel

Vice President, Lake Chapala Hospice

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