Jordi Font Comas d’Argemir
Barcelona (EFE).- By 2025, Barcelona will have a pioneering center in Spain for comprehensive care and support in the last days of life of terminally ill children or for cases of minors with very complex chronic diseases, located in a pavilion in the historic center of Sant Pau that is going to be rehabilitated.
On the occasion of the International Day of Childhood Cancer, the Minister of Health, Manel Balcells, has presided over the presentation of this project promoted by the Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation, specialized in caring for children with cancer without a cure, and the private Foundation Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the society that manages the modernist site.
“Hospice”, very widespread in the United Kingdom but non-existent in Spain
The center will emulate what is known in English as a “hospice”, very widespread in the United Kingdom but still non-existent in Spain: it is not a hostel nor is it a pediatric hospital, but rather a space where, in addition to palliative and chronicity, there will be spaces for leisure, play, rest and accompaniment.
It will also offer “a respite” for families who have to take care of their children 24 hours a day and who will be able to leave them for a few hours with specialized personnel, as well as emotional and social support for the terminally ill family, both before and after the death.
Once fully operational, the center will be able to care for some 400 terminally ill children, who may have pediatric cancer or other life-limiting chronic illnesses.
In Catalonia it is estimated that there are 1,500 children in need of pediatric palliative care and another 1,500 in need of complex chronic care.
Of the 400 annual deaths for all reasons among the population under 19 years of age in Catalonia, it is estimated that some 260 cases would be eligible for palliative care.
Location in a historic pavilion
The Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation has collected, between private contributions and public financing from European funds, a total of 6.7 million euros for the remodeling of the Victoria Pavilion, one of those that make up the historic site of Sant Pau and which has a built area of 1,510 square meters, plus 1,300 square meters of gardens.
The start of the activity of this “hospice” once the remodeling -in charge of the Carme Pinós studio- is scheduled for June 2025, just a century after the construction of this pavilion that bears the name of a deceased daughter of the family that provided the funds for its construction at the time, in 1925.
In its first years of operation, it served as a space for hospital care for minors and now it is going to recover its initial function.
The space will have six individual rooms to give families a break, two family apartments for the last days of a child’s life, rooms for therapies and multisensory stimulation, a water area and others for playing and resting, as well as spaces for recollection and spirituality.
A fantastic project for a very tough situation
The Minister of Health, Manel Balcells, has highlighted that it is a “fantastic project for a very tough situation”, which will allow “advising families, letting them rest and making it easier for them to better bear all this, also filling the last days of life with life of the kids”.
This center, which once it comes into operation will form part of the public service and will be managed by the Hospital de Sant Pau, will “complete” the network of palliative care that five large Catalan hospitals have carried out for years, Balcells has detailed.
The president of the Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation, Núria Pardo, has highlighted for her part that, from her experience as a pediatrician, the hospital “is not the most appropriate place” for a child in his last days of life: “The child wants to be in home and with their parents, but unfortunately sometimes this is not possible because they need more special attention or the home does not have the most appropriate characteristics”, he explained.
Hence the need for centers such as the one in the Victoria Pavilion, which displays various “V”s for Victoria and Life on its façade, and which will complement “all care during the child’s illness phase, accompanying him with respect and tenderness that they deserve at the last moment of their lives”, he highlighted.