By Alexia Evripidou
AFTER A harsh year of job losses, service closures and the forced ejection of chronically ill cancer patients, Arodafnousa Hospice has now finally become fully operational again, thanks to the committed efforts of charity organisations and donations.
Vassos Shiarly, the chairman of the Anticancer Society and former finance minister during some of last year’s crucial troika negotiations, said that the Anti Cancer Society suffered heavy losses as a result of the haircut on deposits. The society’s own bank account was badly hit by the bail-in, and it is also suffering from the knock-on effect it had on the charities raising revenue for this free access hospice.
“It’s bad enough to take money from a person’s bank account but it’s totally inexcusable to take money from a charitable institution, it’s close to criminality,” said Shiarly. “When it comes to charitable institutions, I feel very strongly about this.”
Established in 1971, Arodafnousa Hospice is a non-governmental, charity organisation created to fight cancer and offer palliative care to its patients and their families. It has 15 high standard modern bedrooms, offering the necessary comforts and equipment and round-the-clock hour individual nursing care. It cares for an average of 350 people annually who are suffering with cancer.
But the ‘haircut’ and lack of funding last year took a terrible toll on hospice facilities with some important services forced to close. Staff had salaries and benefits cut by 25 per cent with eight nurses being made redundant, and in May 2013 three out of the 15 rooms were closed.
This left the hospice with the heartbreaking task of having to deny cancer patients into their care. Cancer patients had to be sent away from the security of the hospice to their own beds at home, with only some community care to support them as best as they could.
This year the tide has turned with a number of generous donations and the sponsorship of three new nurses, once again allowing the Anti Cancer Society to become fully operational.
It will also be boosted by the generosity and hard work of charitable organisations such as the annual islandwide Christodoula March, which is celebrating its 39th year on April 13. Last year in the wake of the economic crisis, the March managed to raise 447,000 euros, only half the amount usually raised.
“People are still giving generously,”’ said Shiarly. “However people are giving less than they could before.”
Although the hospice is now back on its feet, it is still working at reduced capability. Shiarly’s long term goals are to get the government to take their share of the responsibility.
“Everywhere in Europe, cancer care is looked after by the government. In Cyprus, it has been taken care of by charitable organisations,” he said.
On April 10 fund raisers will set up 44 kiosks on main road junctions to raise funds for the hospice and help a cause which according to Shiarly “effects nearly every household” in some shape or form in everyone’s lifetime.
On April 13, the actual march takes place in towns across the island.