The department of Medical Oncology of the University Hospital of Ghent was created in 1992, when Prof. Simon Van Belle moved to the University Hospital. The Palliative Care unit has been part of this department since 2006, but originally started its activity in 1999. Both are integrated in the Oncology Centre, which is composed of different diagnostic, medical, radiotherapy and surgical departments.
The department of Medical Oncology and Palliative Care has an out-patient facility, a day-clinic with 20 positions and a dedicated hospitalization unit with 15 medical oncology and 14 radiotherapy beds. The Palliative Care unit has 6 one-person wards with special equipment and 24hrs accessible. There is a Palliative Support Team (dedicated physician, 3 specialized nurses, social worker and a psychologist) who deliver palliative and supportive care in the whole hospital (1050 beds). The department has an ISO 9001:2008 certification since 2006. There are 5 staff members and 5 physicians in training for Medical oncology. All nurses have the special recognition of oncology or are trained in palliative care. There is a dedicated social service and 2 full time psychologists, belonging to the department. Furthermore there are at least 5 tumour-type related psychologists. There are almost 80 people working in the department. The Oncology Centre, its Phase I unit and its Scientific Board are coordinated by a medical oncologist from the department. The Oncology Centre hosts 10 multidisciplinary tumour-boards. All types of diagnostic facilities and all medical, surgical and radiotherapy treatments are available in the Oncology Centre. The staff members are involved in basic, translational and clinical research and graduate to post-graduate teaching. They are also involved in public health policy and are members of numerous commissions in and outside Belgium.
The department has played a key role in the development of the multidisciplinary approach of oncology in Belgium through the Oncology Centre involved in all types of cancer. It has an important role in teaching Palliative Care and Oncology to graduate and postgraduate students. Basic research is focused on breast cancer, translational and clinical research on all types of solid cancers.
Palliative and supportive care
One of the missions of the department is to integrate Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology. This is based on the delivery of this type of care to all patients in the hospital by means of the Palliative Support Team. Furthermore the Palliative Care Unit (6 beds in a separate unit – out of the normal hospital environment) is designed as a substitution of the home situation and for that reason also accessible 24 hrs. to all visitors. It is open to all patients, also referred from outside the hospital. The unit has a clearly pluralistic and holistic vision with special emphasis to a humanitarian approach of the patient and his relatives.