The Institute was founded in 1931 by an act of love and solidarity of Senator Gerolamo Gaslini, who wished to honour his daughter, who passed away in her infancy. Gaslini wanted to ensure that children receive only the best possible type of treatment based on the most innovative research.
Istituto Gaslini started its activity way back in 1938; seventy-five years of history, sacrifice and dedication, always at the forefront in the fields of research and treatment, without ever betraying the ideals of the original Founder.
It is an exemplary history, and perhaps a unique one when one looks at its roots and subsequent development.
The complex consists of 20 annexes spread over an area of 73,000 m2 (two-thirds of which are green areas) that are well-connected to each other, even on an underground level. All its wards face a South South-Easterly direction, and were the inspiration for the motto "Pueris floribusque lumen solis" ("Give sunlight to children and to flowers").
Ever since its founding, Gerolamo Gaslini wanted to host part of the University of Genoa within the walls of the institute, with its own paediatrics chairs in order to ensure the qualified support offered by research and by the training of new generations of paediatricians, nurses and technicians. A few years later, he is known to have said: "I am not a man of science, but I am fully aware of the fact that it is only by starting from properly directed scientific research that doctors who take care of children can carry out their difficult job in full awareness and with a proper sense of integrity".
And to better understand how much importance the Founder gave to development and innovation, one only needs to go back to 1949, the year in which he gave up all his possessions (companies, factories, immovable property, shares, securities and even his own house) in order to merge them into the Gaslini Foundation, which he himself established and chaired. Moreover, Gaslini stated that the resources of his assets were to be unceasingly dedicated to the betterment of the Institutes's research, treatment and training activities.
Gerolamo Gaslini's intention was to create and perpetuate a unified, well-equipped and well-governed organisation, in which the experiences, knowledge and outcomes of the most advanced medical science would be able to find could find a position of constant confrontation, not only with the the world of scientific and technological research, but also with the practical needs of treatment and assistance.
Only through this ongoing exchange between clinical and research activities was the Institute able to ensure a more appropriate and instantly available service to children, or rather, to that particular segment of the world in which the dreams and hopes, not only of the children themselves, but of all humanity, reside.
Since 1988, the year of the death of Countess Germana Gaslini, the Founder's last heir, the Foundation was chaired by the protempore Archbishop of Genoa.
After its substantial and continuous activities (carried out even thanks to the constant efforts of the Foundation) were formally acknowledged, in 1959 the Institute was formally recognised as a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalisation and Healthcare. This title has been confirmed time and time again through the years.
All paediatric and surgical services are practised at the Institute, which also houses scientific laboratories, as well as affiliated university departments, many of which also have their own related graduate schools and post-graduate specialisation courses.
Since its inception, the Institute has continued to grow and change, while always paying due attention to adapt its structures to all changes in the field of medicine, in the healthcare system and in public administration. Seventy-years after its foundation, the Institute is an international reality that is looking forward to its own renovation and expansion, which will allow it to keep up its ability to attract patients from around the world towards highly specialised care, and support more advanced basic and clinical-translational research. Meanwhile, it must be able to interpret the needs of the regional user base by integrating into the network the provision of hospital treatment by paediatric facilities belonging to other regional health agencies with regard to the third level of care, and by cooperating in the development of screening, prevention and health education campaigns.
In the last decade, the Institute achieved and kept the coveted accreditation for excellence on the basis of the standards of the Joint Commission International, that aims towards the continuous improvement of care supplemented with the utmost levels of safety for patients and staff.
The Gaslini Institute has always been a reference point on a national and international level in many disciplines, so much so that it receives thousands of children of ninety nationalities every year, as well as over twenty thousand children from all Italian regions, which constitute around half of all its patients.
There are fifteen Centres for Rare Diseases, with the Neuroscience, Neurosurgery, Interventional Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery and Nephrology Centres being the most in demand.
The Haematology-Oncology Department is the European Coordination Centre for neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumour in infancy, while the paediatric rheumatology centre is the only centre recognised on a European level.
Other highly-specialised sectors and national and international points of reference are those for General, neonatal, oncology and orthopaedic surgery, as well as that for Intensive Care.
In September 2012, the Institute equipped itself with a new 5-storey annex comprising an area of 6,000 square metres, which is called the "Daytime Hospital" due to its nature of "daytime" healthcare facility. It is open to the public between 08:00hrs and 20.00hrs. The new annex, which was specially built and furnished while keeping children in mind, was designed in line with architectural and management criteria in accordance with the most recent and stringent international quality and safety certifications. It helps provide a single point of reference for external, non-inpatient users, while concentrating nearly almost fully on outpatient activities typical of a day hospital and day surgery unit.
The Day Hospital enables the Institute to offer an innovative services presentation system, in order to improve accessibility to services, patient accommodation and reception quality, and ensure a more efficient organisation system and significant management expense savings through the most appropriate methods.
In order to help families, patients and users to orient themselves inside the Hospital and make use of services and care, a new multidimensional "Accommodation System" dubbed “CABEF” (Centro Accoglienza Bambino e Famiglia) (Child and Family Reception Centre) was launched in September 2012. The Centre was designed for different types of users, and avails itself of different profiles, each one entrusted with specific tasks: operators for reception purposes and for providing information, cultural and voluntary mediators for offering support even to foreign patrons; social workers for ensuring that all needs of the family are properly handled, and religious helpers for offering spiritual assistance.
The goal of the new reception system is to improve and streamline the structure's services and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the support, diagnosis and treatment processes, through which the child is "taken care of" from when he or she is still at home until the time when he or she will be able to return there after the treatment. In fact, this system will accompany the child throughout the treatment, and eventually through any rehabilitation and home-based therapies.
These results were achieved thanks to an invisible, but very evident element, namely the motivation of the staff at all levels and in all sectors, a 'feeling of belonging' to an institution, and a tradition that from assistance to infants has managed to create its own history, on which it continues to build its future, while taking care of the child and its family so as to give them the best and most humane treatments.