Hi, I'm Malina

I was one of the 20 founding members who agreed to Graham’s proposal to join the Hospice adventure in Romania and set up HOSPICE Casa Sperantei, at the time when this was just a dream in 1991. Ever since, I have been part of this 30 years story that planted the seed of palliative care in Romania and helped it grow nationally and internationally in Eastern Europe. And I am proud and privileged today to be the only one out of the 20 founders still around and following Graham’s vision.

There are many moments that changed my life along these past 30 years. They all made Hospice part of my existence and my dreams. I can vividly remember the whole scene in 1992, when Graham asked me to join the official setting up of HOSPICE Casa Sperantei in Brasov and registering it as a charity (in a country where charitable work was next to unknown). In the early days I shared the volunteering role with Nelu (Chiriac) as driver for Sylvia Jarrett, the first English nurse who came out to teach palliative care to Romanian nurses and set up the home care services in Brasov. Apart from the role of liaising with the local authorities as member of the board of trustees in those days, I continued volunteering for Sylvia as translator and “prolongment of her left hand”, thus helping her in the care of many patients discharged from the Oncology Hospital.

April 1st 1996 was a new beginning for me in the Hospice, as I was appointed CEO of the small Hospice team in Brasov; I still remember the half-day (ever-lasting for me!!) interview with Carol (Dr. Carol Stone), who came out to Romania to help Graham make sure the team was taking the right track. I then doubted to be the best person for this endeavour and for leading the small team of about 15 doctors, nurses and auxiliaries. But life being a never-ending learning experience proved true for me, with Graham’s guidance and source of inspitation over the following 9 years in the Hospice. I was part of the small Hospice family that grew to a team of about 85 in 2002. I learned the value of diplomatically dealing with authorities and sponsors, but above all I learned that palliative care is about teamwork; teamwork in caring for the patients, teamwork in advocating for the Hospice cause, and even beyond that, teamwork in our lives. And working with Daniela (Conf.Dr. Daniela Mosoiu) has been a rewarding experience of sharing responsibilities in advancing palliative care to the 32 ministers of health since our beginnings in 1992.

Many of my memories are related to special patients’ stories and touching stories of my colleagues’ experience.

A patient in the day centre, with tears in his eyes and trembling hands, as he was holding a birthday cake and saying it was the first time in 64 years that he received a birthday cake…

One other patient in the day centre discovering, as many, many others, that their disease is just the perfect reason to meet and discover amazing ways to share the joy of every day…

The 6-year-old girl with severely damaged renal function, amazingly explaining, on a doll, to the other kids in the paediatric wards what a dialysis is and how it works…

But the years of building and commissioning of the Hospice in Brasov (the first Romanian Hospice) was probably the most accomplishing experience I was involved in.  My background in education and teaching foreign languages wasn’t exactly the right expertise for building something meant to become a model of palliative care services for Romania; I discovered the meaning of a building site and dealing with workers or specific technologies (thanks to our dear friends Ian Ford and Tony Redman and to the colleagues involved, Nelu in particular). The 22nd June 2002, with officially cutting the ribbon of the Hospice brought many British and Romanian guests, supporters and authorities to Brasov. This was a milestone in our development: the completion phase of a model building for palliative care services in Romania and the beginning of this model acting as a place of reference for palliative care in the country and Eastern Europe.

When others say “There’s nothing else we can do…”

... We are the proof that there is a lot more that can be done