A French hospital plans to open a wine bar for terminally ill patients


A waiter serves red wine at a bar in Paris on Dec. 2, 2011.

A hedonistic relationship with food and wine has earned the French a reputation for knowing how to live well. But what about knowing how to die well? Here is your answer.

The palliative care center at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital in central France plans to open a wine bar for terminally ill patients in September — the first of its kind in the wine-loving country.

Patients will be able to share a “medically supervised” tipple with their families during their last days. Given it is a hospital, they probably won't be allowed to get too drunk though.

While the health benefits of wine are disputed, few would argue that a terminally ill patient would be worse off by consuming a glass or two of Bordeaux or Burgundy in the company of their loved ones. The opposite is more likely to be true, according to Virginie Guastella, who runs the center.

The bar would “cheer up the difficult day-to-day existence of patients,” Guastella was quoted as saying.

"The aim is to 're-humanize' patients by improving the quality of their day-to-day existence and also by giving them the pleasure of being able to offer and receive."

It also helps families “create moments of conviviality” at a deeply distressing time of their lives.

"It's a little detail but it can make all the difference."

Plans for the wine bar come amid a growing debate in the West about efforts to prolong the life of terminally ill patients and the way they are cared for in their final days. While the growing cost of keeping hopelessly ill people alive is a major issue, maintaining the quality of life and personal dignity of the patient has become a big focus and has fueled discussion about euthanasia

According to Guastella , wine bars in hospitals could at least brighten up the final days of terminally ill patients.

“A situation can be palliative for several weeks or even several months and it’s because life is so precious and real until the end that we decided to cultivate all that is fine and good,” Guastella said.

A votre santé.