By Bejay Browne
THE FRIEND’S Hospice in Paphos has been given its first grant by the Cyprus government, which will go towards the facility’s general funding.
The hospice, which will celebrate ten years of operation in June, has been given €15,000 by the health ministry.
It costs around €300,000 to operate the facility a year and it is financed almost completely by fundraising events, income from their charity shops and donations.
Since it opened in 2006, the hospice has treated more than 1,100 patients, offering free palliative and respite care to patients suffering with life-limiting illnesses, and their families. It is housed in a dedicated six-bed wing at St. George’s Polyclinic in Paphos.
Chris Jones, President of The Friends’ Hospice Foundation, said: “We are very grateful for this grant because it not only supports our work in real terms, but also recognises the hospice as a centre of excellence in palliative care on the island.”
“Our medical staff and team of volunteers offer palliative and respite services seven days a week throughout the year to people of every nationality, regardless of their personal financial circumstances,” he added.
Hospice spokesman Colm Connolly said that this was the first time such a grant had been approved by the government and that along with two full time doctors and a team of nursing staff, a third doctor was due to be recruited.
“In 2011, the Social Welfare Fund of Paphos Municipality gave us € 5,000, but this is the first time the government has offered us help,” he said.
In May last year, the then Health Minister Philippos Patsalis visited the hospice, meeting staff, doctors, volunteers and patients. Patsalis praised the work undertaken.
Jones had presented the minister with a full breakdown of the accounts and assured him that any public funding granted to support the charity would be spent wisely and transparently.
Jones said: “We are now in the process of recruiting another doctor to strengthen the existing team of two physicians who work with our nurses and volunteers. And none of this would be possible without the widespread goodwill of the general public in supporting our fund-raising endeavours.”
Connolly added that further specialists from the UK would be visiting the hospice over the coming months to share their expertise with staff and ensure that its high standards are maintained.
In February 2006 the hospice accepted its first patient into a ward at the Evangelismos Hospital in Paphos, they then moved to a dedicated wing at the facility in June of the same year.
“We will hold a celebration in the month of June to mark the occasion of offering ten years of palliative care,” said Connolly. In 2013, the facility moved to its current home at the St. George’s Polyclinic in the centre of Paphos.
Seventy per cent of the hospice’s patients are Cypriot and care is offered to everyone, regardless of race or religion.
www.paphoshospice.org and the Facebook page is /www.facebook.com/FriendsHospicePaphos