interview – Giovanni Galvis, palliative and oncology fellow from Sweden

Hi Giovanni!

Tell us about yourself . What are you doing in Australia?

Hello, my name is Giovanni Galvis. I was born in Caracas-Venezuela. I studied Medicine in Bogota-Colombia. After my graduation I decided to go to Europe. I have always been fascinated with the history and architecture and of course the good level in research and clinical medicine there. I spent some time in Germany but in 2007 I moved to Sweden where I did research in the beginning and then started my specialty in Clinical Oncology.  I am doing a placement at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre attending the department of Pain and Palliative Care, the breast clinic and the melanoma clinic.

What is your impression of palliative care and cancer care in Australia? Is it different from that in Sweden? How?

My impression is that the palliative care in Australia is very well structured. The Palliative care team works in close communication with other specialties in order to offer the patient the best possible treatment/management. In Sweden at my hospital there is no a department of pain and palliative care medicine as such, is the clinical oncologist who plans and provides the palliative care when needed.

We have different levels of palliative care in Sweden: General and specialised palliative care. General palliative care can be given at home with cooperation of the GP, Geriatrics or at hospital level.

Specialised palliative care can be given in two modalities: with the ASIH (in Swedish) which means “advanced care at home” a team of palliative care doctors and nurses would regularly visit the patient at home and upon request in case of an emergency. There are also palliative care institutions where the patients can be hospitalised (palliative and hospice).

Tell us something about life in Australia that surprised you.

I have had the possibility to visit Australia twice. I always have been positively impressed with the happiness and kindness of people. I understand why Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world. The sense of cooperation is amazing; people like very much to become a volunteer in many areas of interest for the city and the country. I love it! Something definitively Europe and South America can learn as well.

When you go home, will you take any new ideas with you?

I have learnt a lot during my weeks at Peter Mac and I am very grateful to Dr Fullerton for giving me the possibility to join her team for the meetings and the ward rounds. I had the possibility as well to attend the Melanoma Clinic meetings and I became interested in the study that Dr Wong and Dr Fullerton are leading in the integration of immune-oncology and palliative care. I would very much like to bring this idea for discussion with the palliative care specialists as well the melanoma team at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. I have planned to do a placement in palliative care in Stockholm at the end of this year. It would be very fascinating to start a cooperation between the two countries in this regard.

What could we learn in Australia from the palliative care community in Sweden?

I think Australia is very advanced in palliative care. I am very much sure that cooperation in research between Australia and Sweden would be extremely fruitful for both countries and of course globally.

Thanks Giovanni, it was fun having you visit!  Sonia

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