ATHENS – Palliative Care is a crucial but oft-neglected part of health care. In Greece, the Galilee palliative care center ensures that patients are not alone at the end of their journey through life, and The Hellenic Initiative (THI) has supported its noble efforts through a grant of $15,000. The funds were part of the organization’s COVID-19 campaign which managed to raise $100,000 from Greeks of the Diaspora and philhellenes across the world.
Galilee is the vision of Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogias and Lavreontikis. In the words of Dr. Aliki Tserkezoglou, the center’s Vice President, CEO, and Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, “where there was gloom, Metropolitan Nicholas wanted to bring hope, joy, life, and light to people with chronic diseases and tell them they are still special and important.”
The best medical practice looks at the patient as a whole, but oncology professionals know the ‘whole’ includes the family. This view informs Galilee’s mission, but as an association supported by the Church, they also step in when the doctors’ physical work is done, and the pain takes a different form.
The Metropolitan gathered good people from the healthcare system, reinforced their education, and researched best practices in Europe. While its work is recognized by the Ministry of Health, Galilee does not receive funds from it, relying only on benefactors and the Metropolis.
Galilee’s endeavor is called a called Palliative Unit because they offer multiple integrated services in homes, at a day center, and in hospices centered near the Athens airport. There is also a bereavement service. It is the only comprehensive palliative care team working in Greece and in 2019, there were 360 people under their care.
A dedicated blend of volunteers and professionals, Galilee began with a six-member team providing home care and now there are 36 full-time professionals and 150 volunteers – doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and physical therapists, and priests.
When there is a patient with a disease that can lead to death, “everybody suffers,” Dr. Tserkezoglou said. “Galilee helps provide education and support for the family members who take care of the patient and during the bereavement period.”
She added, “the way people leave this life remains for the rest of the lives as family members … need reassurance and training” which Galilee provides – along with love.
John D. Georges, THI Board Member, stated: The Greek economic crisis, and now, the coronavirus crisis, take their real toll, not only on a country’s economic statistics and prospects, but its people. Such crises make the struggles of families in need, especially those dealing with serious illness, more difficult and more painful. Galilee lightens their burden and eases their pain, and we are proud to support their noble work.”
Michael Printzos, THI’s Program Director, said, “Galilee’s programs and their effectiveness attract highly motivated professionals and volunteers. People offer their time, energy, and knowledge easing the pain not just from the patients but also from their families. We are happy to support a program showcasing such a strong human impact.”
More information is available online: http://www.TheHellenicInitiative.org/.