October 10, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, was a memorable day for the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and its partners as they took one step closer to the implementation of an idea born several years ago – to open the first children’s hospice in Georgia. The hospice will provide a place where children with chronic or incurable diseases will receive palliative care with their families, free of charge.
A relatively small crowd of corporate and individual donors, journalists and civil activists were invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony in the suburb of Dighomi in Tbilisi. Georgia’s first lady, Maka Chichua, was present at the start of construction work, together with OSGF Director, Keti Khutsishvili and Evex director Nikoloz Gamkrelidze. The First Lady of Georgia, General Manager of Medical Corporation Evex and Nina Kiknadze, palliative care coordinator for OSGF, delivered brief speeches to acknowledge donations and more importantly to emphasise the first successful case of public-private partnership in Georgia. Amongst those attending the opening were mothers of future beneficiaries including one who had brought her child.
Chichua outlined that the non-governmental sector, businesses and many individuals have been involved in carrying out this project and she thanked them for their support. Together with the other speakers, she inserted a list of the people and organisations who had donated to the project into a capsule which was placed in the foundation of the new house.
“This is a place where children will receive complete care, medical care, psychological support, will have entertainment, all within a comfortable environment,” Khustishvili told journalists.
“This is very important so that little members of our society can be happy in the final days of their lives and so we may help them make their lives better. I call on everyone to get involved in this project,” Maka Chichua said.
The idea of opening the hospice was raised after a needs assessment was carried out in 2013. According to the study, 839 children require such care every year.
The hospice will be completed by the end of 2016 and will offer three types of service, these being: in-patient 24-hour care for 10 children; a day centre where children and their parents will receive daytime services; and a home care service. The latter is already being offered to 15 children in Tbilisi. Open Society Georgia Foundation took the initiative to support the project and it is co-financed by the president’s reserve fund and supported by the medical corporation, Evex.
There was extensive coverage of the event by local media including this You Tube video from a Georgian news network.