The 12th BELhospice charity ball, this year called “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was held last evening in the White Palace, with the aim of fundraising for the further work of the BELhospice Center for Palliative Care for free home care for oncology patients and their families, as well as to assure sustainability of the hospice Day Center in Belgrade.

Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine, due to the mourning for the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II, could not attend this year’s event, but they traditionally give their full support. Crown Princess is one of the pioneers of establishing palliative care in Serbia, since the first in-patient unit for palliative care in Serbia was opened by Her Royal Highness in Niš nine years ago thanks to the hard work and generosity of Dr. Elaine Laycock. In addition, upon invitation from Dr. Laycock, medical staff in Serbia had the opportunity to advance their knowledge about palliative care by visiting Michael Sobell Hospice near London.

Many distinguished guests, including representatives of the diplomatic corps –  HE Shehryar Akbar Khan, the Ambassador of Pakistan in Serbia, and Mrs. Anne Pesic, Consul of Ireland in Serbia, supporters, representatives of corporate sector, sports, and arts attended the event and supported the important mission of BELhospice – providing palliative care to cancer patients during the last phase of their illness. The greeting letter from HRH Crown Princess Katherine was read by Professor Dr. Aleksandar P. Simić, member of the Royal Medical Board, at the official opening of the ball.

“The importance of the cause supported by this event can hardly be described in words. The mission of BELhospice to provide help, and comfort to the patients and their families in the time when they are going through the most difficult periods of their lives when they are so vulnerable and suffering, is noble and worthy of every praise and support.

The support that needs to be provided to their great team of devoted people is not only in raising funds that will help the further work of the BELhospice Center but also for raising public awareness of the importance of the palliative care system. My Foundation and I have been working together with these wonderful people for years, and I very well know how much energy and strength all of them have, and how determined they are to provide aid for terminally-ill patients and their families. And I call upon all people of good heart to contribute to this humanitarian mission. Significant progress has been made in the development of palliative care in Serbia, but much more can be done, for which, we need the ideas and efforts of others.

It is of great importance for people to be supported in end-of-life care. Giving the patients relief in their most vulnerable moments, as well as the knowledge to their families that every possible support has been given to their loved ones who are suffering, is a noble and high act. Unfortunately, the needs for this kind of support are high. More palliative care centers need to be opened as soon as possible throughout Serbia. But we do not need only facilities, but also highly trained medical professionals who will work with the patients in the proper way that their delicate situation requires. I am sure that together we can and we will move Serbia forward with its palliative care, for the good of those who need support in such challenging times of their lives” – stated HRH Crown Princess Katherine in her letter.

Mrs. Vera Madzgalj, the Chief Executive Officer of the BELhospice Center thanked all people present for their support, empathy, kindness, and compassion, and sent special gratitude to TRH Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine. She also said:” A Midsummer Night’s Dream is about transforming the dreams into reality making a step further and creating a difference. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched the lives of all of us, especially cancer patients and their families. Many have lost loved ones and grief has been experienced in our communities. Your generous support enabled BELHospice to substitute one world for another and create a difference in their lives.  The difference that matters.”

Mrs. Madzgalj also informed that from September last year, the Belhospice team was able to deliver 808 free-of-charge care services to 482 beneficiaries in their homes. Doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and volunteers helped them to manage pain, and reduced fear and isolation caused by illness and the coronavirus. They have also enabled better quality of life for over 100 patients and delivered 244 devices including wheelchairs, beds, and anti-decubitus mattresses. Over 100 professionals in the social welfare sector and more than 250 nurses through new accredited training were educated. Mrs. Madzgalj also pointed out that the biggest achievement this year is starting the new service hospice in the Home for children, that have achieved the license and the team was already able to make a significant change in the life of dozens of children and their parents in Belgrade.

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual.

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