Royal support for new hospice centre in Bucharest, Romania

Categories: Care.

The hospice project has been supported by the UK charity, Hospices of Hope, which has been helping to develop better care for terminally ill patients in Romania and surrounding countries since 1992.

The opening ceremony was attended by 200 people and the ribbon was cut by two patrons of the hospice; the Duchess of Norfolk and Dominic Habsburg, grandson of Queen Marie of Romania who herself was a niece of Queen Victoria and well known for her care of the sick and suffering.  A Founder Member’s plaque was also unveiled with the names of donors from Romania, the UK and elsewhere. There were 45 guests from the UK and a celebration concert with the London Community Gospel Choir took place in the evening, sponsored by Vodafone, one of the hospice’s major donors.

The Duchess of Norfolk launched the fundraising appeal back in September 2008, just before the start of the world-wide recession. A group of business leaders, led by Patrick Desbiens, CEO of another British company, GlaxoSmithKline, decided to form a committee to help fundraise for the 5.7 million euros needed to purchase the land, build and equip the hospice and pay for the first 9 months running costs. The fundraising campaign is now just 390,000 euros short of its target. Most of the hospice services are already functioning, but the in-patient unit will not be able to open until the final amount has been raised.

The Duchess of Norfolk, in her speech, congratulated everyone for staying focused on the cause and said that it was an amazing achievement. She said: “It would have been so easy when the recession arrived to have given up. I believe that as the community and government get involved, the hospice is going to make a huge impact on the future of palliative care in this country”. Graham Perolls, founder of Hospices of Hope said: “We have had to overcome many obstacles, but we were always motivated by the needs of the terminally ill in this city”.

When the hospice is fully functional, the team will make around 11,000 home visits annually and there will be up to 8,000 out-patient consultations and 5,000 day care attendances. The 23 beds will enable up to 700 admissions a year for patients with severe pain or who do not have relatives to care for them. Alongside the clinical services, an Educational and Training Centre will run courses in all aspects of palliative care and help train more specialists from all over Romania and many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Bucharest is a city of 2 million people and although much progress has been made since the overthrow of communism, there is still a lot of social deprivation and patients with a terminal or life-threatening condition often have nowhere to turn. Those who cannot afford private health care often find hospitals that are under-resourced and unable to offer good care at the end of life. Patients and families often suffer pain and emotional distress as a result. Hospice Casa Sperantei opened the first Romanian hospice for children and adults in 1992 in the city of Brasov and this has become a Centre of Excellence for the whole region. The new Bucharest hospice will play an important role in developing a partnership with the Ministry of Health and convincing the government that more resources need to be made available for the care of dying patients and their families. At present the government pays 20% of Hospice Casa Sperantei’s overall costs but the other 80% has to be fundraised each year.

Graham Perolls said: “It is amazing how generous people in the UK have been towards Romania but it is even more encouraging that the larger proportion of funding is now coming from Romania, where businesses and individuals understand the needs of their citizens and are really starting to respond. Our major focus, now that the hospice building is completed, is to raise the last part of the funds needed and get the in-patient unit open as soon as possible.”

For more information go to where you can make a donation online. 

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