Last September, five-year-old Alejandro was admitted to the intensive care unit at a hospital in Huesca with tachycardia. He had suffered the first of many episodes of respiratory distress that were gradually damaging his heart. Specialists concluded he needed a cardiac ablation procedure to put a stop to his episodes of tachycardia. Three weeks later, little Alejandro underwent the procedure at SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital.
Fourteen-year-old Gabriela has a disease which involves frequent episodes of tachycardia. She and her family had to travel to Barcelona for an ablation procedure at our hospital. At that time, finding accommodation in Barcelona was no easy task, as Spain was in phase zero of its restrictions easing programme.
Two years ago, to provide support and help with lodgings for families travelling from all around Spain and beyond for treatment at our hospital, SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital created its Hospitality programme.
Since the programme started, the hospital has lodged more than 300 families of more than 30 different nationalities in its own accommodation, and has fielded more than 700 requests for outside accommodation, such as hotels and rental apartments.
Lodging options and support for Spanish and international patients
The needs of the families who come to SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital are many and varied — and so are the options that the hospital offers to meet them.
The Hospitality programme provides guidance and any information that families may need on a wide range of accommodation near the hospital. Thanks to this programme, despite the lockdown, Gabriela and Alejandro had their families nearby.
The programme also has 7 homes that can accommodate around 30 families, at a reduced price in case of need, provided if there is availability. In these homes, each family stays in a room with one, two or three beds. "During the lockdown, these were fully occupied. We accommodated more than 70 families", said programme head, Mehdi Hilali. "We followed the safety protocol and cleaned the rooms daily. Some families spent their quarantine in one of the flats."
According to Hilali, the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital programme, which has a collaborative relationship with various foundations, "extends the gift of hospitality to families who need a temporary place to stay near the Hospital".
Hilali also noted that, during the pandemic, some flat owners in Barcelona, sympathetic to the difficulties faced by some families of hospitalised children due to lost income, lowered their rental rates.