Healthcare not just heals but also accompanies and safeguards

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on July 24 addressed the administrators and staff of the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital in Rome at a stocktaking event for the year 2018.

By Robin Gomes

There are incurable diseases but no untreatable diseases because caring not only means healing but also accompanying and safeguarding.  Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, made the point on Wednesday at the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome. 

The 150-year old children’s hospital of the Holy See, with its four branches, is a reference point for the healthcare of children and adolescents from Italy and abroad.  Today, it is the largest paediatric polyclinic and research centre in Europe. 

Improving quality of care

Speaking at the stock-taking event for the year 2018, Card. Parolin congratulated the administration and staff for their contribution and achievements. 

He regarded it an excellent balance sheet of health, scientific and social activities with humanitarian projects in 10 countries.  In this regard, he reminded them of the message of Pope Francis for the hospital’s 150th anniversary, that “those who take care of the little ones are on God’s side and defeat the culture of waste”.

The cardinal stressed that this yearning for excellence should not wane. “We must never forget that the value of success is measured in the ability to improve the quality of care and assistance.”  “Children, young people and their families,” said, “are and must remain at the heart of every activity, every process and every initiative.”  In doing so, the Vatican Secretary of State urged all to avoid the pitfall of divisions and seeking attention and carry out their duties with awareness and humility.

Recalling Vincent Lambert , the French quadriplegic man in a vegetative state for a decade, who died earlier this month after doctors stopped the food and water systems that kept him alive, Card. Parolin said the case reminds us about the two British babies, Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, who suffered from irreversible conditions and died in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Accompanying and safeguarding life

He said, “We have the task of stating that there are incurable diseases, but no untreatable diseases because caring does not only mean healing but also accompanying and safeguarding.”

In this connection he recalled the words of the Pope in the case of Lambert, saying God is the only master of life from the beginning to its natural end and it is our duty to guard it always.

Bambino Gesù – a reference point

The Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital has provided almost 2 million outpatient services and 29,000 admissions.  It also carried out 324 interventions on organs, cells and tissues, and provided treatment to over 13,000 patients with rare diseases.  The hospital also has an impressive contribution to research.

The hospital has helped 4,500 families of sick children with accommodation and another 2,100 families were followed by social services.  Sixty-two “humanitarian patients” from 28 countries were treated as a sign of the hospital’s openness to others. 

Card. Parolin said he was impressed with the report which, he said, has tried its best to combine solidarity and openness to the world with economic sustainability, because charity is carried out with whatever is available. 

A charity event is being organized in November in the Vatican to raise funds for a new unit for cancer treatment and transplantation.