The first Family House has opened its gates in Bethesda Hospital

Mr Zsolt Semjén, deputy prime minister, His Excellency Mr Niclas Trouve, ambassador of Sweden to Hungary solemnly handed over the “Bethesda – Family House” to György Velkey, chief director of the Bethesda Children’s Hospital. Speeches were given at the ceremony by Mr István Szabó, Lutheran bishop, the top managers of the main sponsors – SCA, Hungaropharma and SPAR –, Ms Katalin Novák, state secretary of EMMI and Mr Gergő Karácsony, mayor of Zugló. The Bethesda Family House provides accommodation for family members accompanying the hospitalized children, which, in this form, similarly to the Health visitor service, is unique in the world: it is a Hungaricum. Therefore, almost everybody who personally took up the cause was present at the ceremony, and special thanks were given to Ms Adél Kováts, actress, Ms Petra Jaksa, voluntary firewoman, and Ms Judit Sándor, SCA employee, who were the ambassadors of the initiative.

Five out of the 10 mini studio flats in the Bethesda Family House will provide accommodation for parents accompanying their children, and the other five studio flats will house doctors and nurses on duty in the hospital. The National Centre for Children Burn Victims functioning within the Children’s Hospital provides care for children who suffered severe burns and were transferred to the hospital from remote places. The Bethesda Family House aims to support both the healing, which often requires hospitalization for several months, and the preparation for the rehabilitation that follows. The professionalism and devotion of doctors and nurses, as well as the continuous and encouraging presence of the parents are equally essential. The Bethesda Family House is the fruit and the symbol of careful and forward-looking thinking in health care, shared by all the supporters. It is an important step towards making prevention a daily practice in health care.

In order to achieve this goal, the former deaconess Family House had to be modernised; so far the project has required a funding of 60 million HUF and 4 years of tight cooperation. Several new ideas, help and support given by international and Hungarian partners of the cooperation were needed. For example, Dutch volunteers did their share in the construction work. However, the work has not been finished yet, since the external construction work of the Bethesda Family House, as well as the finishing touch of the interior remain to be done. Since the very beginning, the fundraising for maintenance, operation and development has been the duty of the Bethesda Foundation and its circle, or “network” of supporters, to employ the commonly used term.  The Bethesda Family House creates value for the whole society in this respect, too, being a successful practical example of corporate social responsibility.


The method may be useful for and adapted to any similar foundation. The proof of successful operation is the Family House itself, whereas the professional CSR award, which the project was granted in 2014 and 2015 (CSR-Hungary, PR federation), recognises its innovative character. The modern way of fundraising via a foundation is closely connected to corporate social responsibility. The method basically alloys the ancient wisdom “Do not give me a fish, teach me how to fish” and the modern corporate logic focusing on result. The continuous strategic cooperation between the corporations and the private sector basically impossible for objectives that require long-term cooperation and perseverant work. The solution offered by the Bethesda Foundation may show the way out from this deadlock situation, which is unfortunately well-known to so many. From this point of view, it is worth informing the public opinion, and especially the corporate sector about the concrete example of the Bethesda Family House.

In 2011, the Hungarian management of SCA, representing the Swedish corporate values and business culture, contacted proactively the Bethesda Foundation, as they considered that the new tax law would make it more difficult for us to pursue our children health care and education programmes which are gap fillers. In order to remedy the situation, SCA offered us that they would design their strategic CSR programme until 2015, the company’s 30th anniversary, along the lines of a transparent strategic cooperation. It also contacted its own business partners, among others SPAR and Hungaropharma, to reach their common customers.  From the outset, the strategy managed the short-term project of collection of donations by selling SCA products and the long-term PR activity aiming to increase the number of supporters offering 1% of their personal income tax. As a result, more than 10 million HUF of direct funding was collected, the number of those supporting the project with their personal income tax increased by 25%, and finally the Bethesda Family House was built and its operation is sustainable. Bethesda’s credo „My reward is that I can do it” and the SCA credo „We care for life” are in harmony, and reveal two complementary attitudes and daily practices.

Finally, the best hospital care – which may often take several months – can only mark the beginning of a successful healing process, which usually takes several years and starts when the children return to their home. It is obvious that even a completely healthy child would suffer psychological harm if they had to spend several months in a perfectly unknown environment, without their parents and family, and suffer painful things that some men and ladies in a white gown, although smiling, do to them from time to time. It is even more so in the case of children who suffer from severe burn traumatism. It should not be allowed that the children are left alone in this process, because without the supportive presence of the parents total healing cannot be achieved. It is our responsibility to create the conditions for the parents to fulfil their obligation in such circumstances, as it is part of a preventive healing and cure. However, it takes time to implement such a structure, especially because the local needs and possibilities may differ considerably. The solution can be found locally, in a joint effort by the state, the church, the civil society and the corporations. What we need is not a solution provided by the state, but a solution supported by the state, an aspect which has to be taken into consideration if we want other “Family Houses” to be opened throughout the country.



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