By Bejay Browne
THE only dedicated hospice operating in Paphos has closed after more than six years and after helping over 750 cancer patients during its brief existence.
The Friends Hospice was recently forced to scale down its operation from seven beds to two due to the economic crisis and was working out of the Evangelismos private hospital.
Yesterday however it ceased to operate. All of the hospice equipment, including beds, mattresses and bedding had been packed up and placed in storage.
Chris Jones, president of the Friends Hospice Foundation said: “We took the decision as the future was uncertain and the doctors were concerned that treatment should not be compromised.” He added: “It was of concern that the good name of the hospice should not be affected in any way.”
The Friends Hospice offered specialised palliative and respite care for patients and their families.
“Economic conditions, together with changes in management in the Evangelismos hospital have altered the hospice’s ability to maintain its first-class palliative care in the present circumstances,” said Jones.
The hospice is currently the only operational one in Paphos and recently downsized to a two-bed facility. Since opening in 2006, the facility has cared for more than 750 patients with life-limiting illnesses.
The facility is solely run by donations, money raised by the shops and fundraising events.
A spokesperson for the Evangelismos hospital said yesterday: “We are not ready to release a statement yet as this only happened 24 hours ago. They (the Friends Hospice) are leaving on good terms, there is no conflict between us and we have supported the hospice for a number of years. We will release a statement at a later date.”
The Cyprus Mail was contacted by a number of devastated volunteers who support the Friends Hospice, concerned about the future of treatment available to patients with life limiting illnesses. As there is currently no other operational hospice in Paphos, it seems as if patients will have to rely on Paphos general hospital for any treatment.
According to the Archangel Hospice in Mesa Chorio in Paphos which is in the final stages of completion, the facility will not be able to take patients until at least the end of the year – or when sufficient funds are in place to ensure the smooth running of the facility.
Jones said: “We are seeking other ways to continue specialised services for the community and we have two strong possibilities. I am unable to say any more at present-as we have to check viabilities with our budget, but we are trying to ensure that we move forward. People want a hospice.”
According to the foundation’s president, only one patient was receiving treatment at the hospice and she left the facility on Monday.
The hospice offers care to those for whom a cure is no longer possible.
Jones said the Friends Hospice shops would remain open and fundraising events would go ahead. “This is not the end- I can assure you of that,” he said.