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The Chairman of the Robert Burns International Foundation, owner of EDMF Language Services Kft. and long-term Hungary resident Douglas Arnott has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the UK’s New Year’s Honours for services to charity and UK-Hungary relations.

The list of recipients is announced every year at the end of December. This year the British Empire Medal was awarded to a total of 358 people. Apart from those living in the British Isles only four people received this prominent award, including Douglas, who has been working at the RBIF helping sick and underprivileged children for seven years, five of which as Chairman.

Proficient in four languages, including Hungarian, Douglas graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland with an honours degree in translation and interpreting, before settling in Hungary and establishing EDMF. For more than seven years he has been involved in the RBIF’s charitable activities, for which he was recognised with a BEM in the New Year’s Honours List.

The announcement of the award at the end of last year will be followed by the medal presentation this year along with a garden party at Buckingham Palace for the award winners.

About the British Empire Medal:

This high-level honour was established in 1917 as part of the Order of the British Empire and is awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Queen. Between 1993 and 2012 the BEM was not awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom, although it continued to be presented in some Commonwealth countries. The awarding of the British Empire Medal to subjects of the United Kingdom was resumed in 2012 to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The final decision on the medal awards is made by Queen Elisabeth II herself.

♦️Gilly McArthur (@gillymcarthur) által megosztott bejegyzés,

In recent years the RBIF has been intensifying its activities beyond the boundaries of the capital Budapest, and 2018 was no exception.

As part of the SME Sponsorship Scheme, and as ever with the medical advice from Professor György Fekete, former director of the 2nd Department of Paediatrics at SOTE II in Budapest, we got in contact with Ferenc Papp, consultant physician and head of department at the paediatric unit in Hódmezővásárhely in southern Hungary.

Having teamed up with the RBIF in 2017, the staff at Inter Relocation Kft. again demonstrated their willingness to get involved with this ever-growing scheme organised by the RBIF. Such was the donation provided by Inter Relocation, and doubled by funds raised at the 2018 Burns Supper, that we were able to buy not just two but in fact three infusion pumps.

During our visit to the hospital in Makó in December 2018, where one of the pumps is already in use, Dr Papp explained that “the pump enables IV fluids and also medicines to be dosed very accurately compared to gravity-based drips”, which really enhances the standard of care. Until the RBIF donation was handed over, the hospital in Makó did not have any such infusion pump. The other two pumps are now also being used in Hódmezővásárhely.

In Makó, the RBIF represented by Chairman Douglas Arnott was accompanied by HM Ambassador Iain Lindsay, Honorary Patron of the RBIF, and Stuart McAlister, Managing Director at Inter Relocation Kft.

Stuart revealed he was delighted Inter Relocation were able to continue their involvement in the SME Scheme:

“Our sponsorship of individual projects, under the stewardship of the RBIF, plays a key role in Inter Relocation’s CSR program. It is incredible that we can make a clear and measurable difference to a hospital in need, by investing in key equipment. I was honoured to have the chance to meet with the staff of the hospital in Makó and to learn first-hand how our donation makes a difference to the staff of the paediatric department, and the children they treat there.”

Very early one cold December morning, when it was still dark, we hit the road to Zalaegerszeg in western Hungary, a place hitherto notable to me only for the unpronouncability of its name. 

I’ve since nailed the pronunciation (I had plenty of time in the car).  Anyway, I was undertaking a day of calls and public engagements on behalf of the Embassy in Zala.  And the most important event I took part in, as a member of the RBIF Curatorium, was the handover of a donation of a bronchoscope to the Zala County Szent Rafael hospital’s paediatric department with Dougie Arnott (Chairman) and Dennis Diokno of FirstMed.  This donation was enabled through our SME Sponsorship Scheme, with FirstMed teaming up with RBIF in this instance to double the value of the donation.

We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the Paediatrics Department by Dr László Gárdos, Head of Department.  There was a festive feel as, on 6 December, all the doctors and nurses were dressed in Santa hats for St Nicholas.  It was touching to meet some patients and their parents, and to witness the serenity and dedication of the staff.  Seeing the newborns was of course a particular joy.  We also saw the helipad of which the hospital was very proud – but sadly (or perhaps happily) no helicopters in sight.

Dr Gárdos received the bronchoscope on behalf of the hospital.  They have not, until now, had their own bronchoscope and he explained how it will help them diagnose a multitude of breathing problems much more easily and treat airway blockages when, for example, babies or children ingest small objects.

Dr Gabriella Halász, President of the Hospital, said it was a huge honour to receive the equipment.  In fact, I felt humbled by the whole occasion and thought, on the contrary, the honour was ours.

Caitlin Jones
Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy
Curatorium Member

The Péterfy Sándor Street Hospital, located in District 7, is one of the larger hospitals in Budapest with nearly 1,600 beds, where patients can be treated for an array of ailments and conditions. The Péterfy Sándor Hospital has been operating since 1848, which also makes it one of Budapest’s older hospitals.

The RBIF has been working closely with the hospital for a number of years, with its focus being on the improvement and provision of facilities and equipment on the neonatal wing, which treats and cares for newborn children, primarily premature babies. Despite the dedication of its workers, patrons and benefactors the hospital still struggles to provide the most up-to-date and holistic care for its patients. So one of the RBIF’s priorities is to support the neonatal wing by helping to equip it with the required technology, in order to ensure the comfort and survival of many of the prematurely newborn babies they receive.

The neonatal wing is run by Dr Gabor Baross who, with the support of his team, can deal with anything between 500 – 600 premature babies every year. Given the wing can only accommodate 20/30 babies at any one time, if one was to say the wing is running at capacity, it would be somewhat of an understatement. Dr Baross also explained that to compound this problem, it is getting harder and harder to recruit and retain skilled and qualified nurses, to care for the newborn babies, as they are being tempted to leave Hungary and move abroad.

 

What defines a premature baby who needs the help of Dr Baross and his colleagues? A premature baby is anything weighing between 500 grams to 1 kilogram. A baby born under 500 grams has a 20/30% survival rate, and then only a 30% chance of being healthy. Once a newborn is brought to the wing Dr Baross ensures he/she is checked extensively, and then placed in one of the incubators – presuming there is free capacity. Depending on the diagnosis, the baby will then spend anything between 4 weeks to 4 months within the confines of this incubator. Dr Baross welcomes visits from the parents, but this needs to be managed carefully as there can be up to 5 incubators in 1 room, meaning circulation space can be at a premium.

 

As a direct result of your generous help and contributions in 2018, we were able to buy and provide Dr Baross with eight top of the range bedside monitors, which is excellent news given our target was five. This has greatly helped the unit, and made the monitoring of the babies’ welfare far, far easier, as these new machines can measure blood pressure ECG, temperature and blood oxygen levels using one lead only. The older version required 4 machines with 4 separate leads. Not only was this inefficient, but it made holistic diagnosis / check-ups more complicated and timely.

 

What next? The hospital asks the government for support every year, but so far it is only patrons like the RBIF and others who provide them with support. The objective for 2019 is to acquire 3 or 4 more monitors as well as provide support for the wing to construct parent rooms. Despite Dr Baross winning an award for the most “Baby Friendly Hospital” in 2018, the department is still tired and limited. There is some redundant space at the end of the wing which can be converted into spaces for parents to stay with their babies. Currently there are 2 rooms (for mothers only) and fathers can only visit for a few hours every day. Fathers are not allowed to stay the night, primarily due to capacity reasons. Clearly this proposed construction for further parent rooms is (almost) prohibitively expensive, but with the support of the RBIF’s sponsors and guests there is always hope.

The keen-eyed among you will have noticed that the RBIF launched a brand-new website in 2018, a platform that makes it much easier for us to let you know exactly what we are doing and helps us to interact more with everyone on social media.

Designing and building a new website is not an easy task, and not a cheap one either, which is why we were extremely grateful to Edit McAlister at Expat Press Magazine and Inter Relocation.

Why did you decide to help the RBIF with its new website?

When the RBIF Chairman Douglas Arnott asked me whether I could help with this project, there was nothing to decide, I had to say yes. I’ve been attending the Burns Suppers for almost ten years as a guest, and I know just how much valuable work goes into running the foundation.

I really appreciate, and hold in high regard, the work carried out by the RBIF. The purpose of the fundraising is to help sick and underprivileged children, so for me it was a no-brainer: if the foundation needed my expertise, I was happy to give it to them.

The new website helps us communicate our fundraising activity for sick and underprivileged children to as wide an audience as possible.

Edit, many would think Expat Press Magazine is just another website for expats in Hungary, but it’s a bit more than that, isn’t it?

Edit McAlister, Managing Editor and Director of Marketing / photo: Brigitta Kátay-Tóth

It is important for us that our readers receive content that does not come across as simple advertising, but which conveys credible information and is genuinely helpful.

The majority of our writers are expats themselves, who have lived in the country for a long time and know it inside out. For example, the places that we write about are not just ones we have visited once, they have become regular haunts and we share tried-and-tested experiences with our readers.

We believe it is crucial that our readers should really feel at home in Hungary, with all its positive and negative nuances. Our Budapest Expats group on Facebook is essentially an extension of the magazine, where people can go to for further help and guidance from us.

Why have interactive websites and social media become so important?

The two are intertwined. There are many professional articles out there on this, but in a nutshell, social media posts provide an opportunity for the public to find your new web content and click through to your site, and an active social media presence builds relationships with your audience.

An interactive web design engages visitors with a more relevant experience. It’s the difference between talking at someone and starting a conversation.

What would you say to anyone thinking of offering their own specialist services to help the RBIF?

You cannot put a price on the activity that the RBIF performs. Some might question the importance of corporate social responsibility activities.

I believe that giving back to the community and helping those in need should be an integral part of our lives nowadays, both at a personal and at a business level. For me at least, this isn’t even a question.