EM has moved! Our editorial office can now be found in HB-108, between the Theil lecture hall and the Tinbergen Building canteen. To introduce our new location, we’re inviting everyone to pitch their story on Monday and Tuesday and we’ll immediately do a write-up based on the pitch.
Christiaan has worked since 2013 at Sophia TV, a multimedia project of Sophia Children Hospital in cooperation with the Stichting Vrienden van het Sophia. At the time he wanted to broaden his horizons, he says. “Medical students are mainly trained to concentrate on the illness,” says Christiaan. “But when I started volunteering, I discovered that a patient is so much more than just his or her illness.”
Sophia TV’s activities involve both the children and their families. “For example, we’ll organise a party or an excursion for the whole family,” says Christiaan. “People often forget that the whole family’s life is also turned upside-down by the illness.”
In addition to parties and events, the volunteers also give personal attention to the children. “We usually do a round of the hospital. We ask each child what they would really like to do here and now and we try to fulfil their wish.”
The Erasmus MC-Sophia Hospital admits terminally ill children who stay as patients for months at a time. “There was a child who had to spend a long time in an isolation chamber and she really wanted to see her dog. Technically, she can’t leave the isolation area, but in the end we were able to arrange for her to briefly play with her dog in the hospital garden,” recounts Christiaan. “I think it’s moments like this that really make a difference and give children strength.”
Christiaan hopes that in the future, medical professionals will change how they deal with their patients. “I feel that the medical establishment doesn’t pay enough attention to the social aspects of the profession,” explains Christiaan. “I understand that doctors don’t always have time to give personal attention because their schedules are full of appointments they have to keep. But still, I hope that more consideration will be given to the patient’s mental state and social life.”
Christiaan plays his part by imparting a positive attitude to the children in the hospital. “Children love it when you spend time with them and give them your attention,” Christiaan says. “For a brief moment they completely forget that they’re ill.”