August 12, 2014

In France, a glass of wine is just what the doctor ordered.Leave it to the French to understand the medicinal properties of a fine wine. While the science behind wine’s health benefits may be shaky, there is no denying that a good vintage can do wonders for the psyche. As such, a hospital in Central France is opening a wine bar that will serve terminally ill patients.

Old city, new trend
Puy-de-Dome is a small region in the middle of France named after a dormant volcano. The largest city in the French state is Clermont-Ferrand, one of the oldest cities in France, dating back to Ancient Roman times. However, the historic heritage of the city has not prevented it from embracing cutting-edge practices. The hospital at Clermont-Ferrand is one of the first to establish a wine-tasting program for terminally ill patients.

Better days
The idea to include a medically-supervised wine bar in the hospital’s palliative care unit came to Dr. Virginie Guastella as she was considering the best ways to improve the last days of terminally ill patients. Palliative care is primarily concerned with alleviating the suffering of patients, as it is usually prescribed to those who have diseases that are incurable. Therefore, the goal of the wine bar is not to heal these particular patients, but rather, to help them enjoy a rich, fulfilling life despite their illness.

Dr. Guastella first suggested the idea of introducing a wine bar as a way of considering how the palliative care unit could do more for their patients that just administer pain relievers. The complexity of taste in a good wine is one of life’s simple pleasures, and one that should not be denied those who are suffering from terminal illness. In talking about the project, Dr. Guastella told the Local, “It’s a way of rethinking the care of others, taking into account their feelings and emotions that make them a human being.”

The wine bar will include not only fine wines, but also champagne and whiskey, all of which will be served to patients while adhering to certain protocols. The work of socio-anthropologist Catherine Legrand Sebille has greatly influenced Dr. Guastella in her efforts to bring the wine bar program to fruition. As such, Legrand Sebille will be developing the training program that instructs hospital faculty in the ways in which wine consumption can have a positive effect on overall well-being. This will help the caregivers ensure that the bar functions as a positive experience for patients more than anything else.