In 2015, the IAHPC Program Support Review Committee approved an application to provide funding to the Galilee Palliative Care Unit, the first inpatient unit in Greece for adult cancer patients due to open later this year. IAHPC’s support will enable the construction of a single room within the unit.
Dr. Aliki Tserkezoglou, Director of the Galilee Palliative Care Unit, Spata, Greece, explains the background to the project and their plans for the future.
Galilee Palliative Care Unit is completing the construction of the first inpatient unit in Greece for adult cancer patients. Palliative care is still very unknown in Greece and the construction of the first hospice in our country is taking place under extraordinarily challenging circumstances, both economically and socially. Our services are all free of charge in spite of the fact that we do not have any support, as yet, from the State Health Care System.
Seven years’ experience in providing home care and day center services to more than 600 cancer patients had highlighted the need for an inpatient unit, especially for patients with refractory symptoms and those with terminal illness. Our goal was to provide quality palliative care services to all patients in need but our experience had shown that in may cases this was impossible without admission to an inpatient unit. Moreover, because of the economic crisis in Greece, admission to public hospitals for cancer patients, and especially those in the terminal stage, has become very difficult. Additionally, most of our patients wish to die at home or, when this is not possible, in a home-like environment, which provides the safety of a hospital setting.
The project started in June 2015 and includes the construction of an inpatient unit with nine beds arranged in five single rooms and two twin-bedded rooms. It is built within an existing structure situated in Spata, next to our offices and the Day Care Center. The work is nearly complete – apart from the final coat of paint and the installation of light fixtures and fittings, the central unit for air conditioning and the generator.
We established a fundraising committee that secured private funds for the completion of the inpatient unit and it will continue fundraising for the running costs of the unit. Also, our Director is in frequent contact with the appropriate ministries for the partial reimbursement from the State Health Care System.
In addition to the interdisciplinary team of professionals, we have more than 100 trained volunteers who provide 13,000 hours of service per year (equal to six full-time employees), and all members of our core management team work on a volunteer basis.
We hope to admit our first patients on 1 October 2017. Our target is set at 170 admissions a year, based on nine beds with an occupancy rate of 70 percent and a mean length of stay of two weeks.
Our commitment to bringing provision of palliative care services to patients in Greece is very strong, leading us to work hard to overcome barriers and to increase public awareness.
To find out more about IAHPC’s Program Support Grants, and our Traveling Scholarships and Traveling Fellowships, please visit our website. Through these programs we support projects and individuals around the world, especially in developing countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.
You can contribute to this program and help palliative care workers attend and participate in congresses and courses by donating to the Traveling Scholarships Campaign in the Global Giving website.