This project was born with a focus on the experience that hospitalized children in need of a surgical operation go through, and on the ways in which this experience can be improved. Conversations with health care professionals helped us to identify the moments immediately preceding a surgical operation as the most important and significant in this sense, which led to us making them the main focus of this project.
Undergoing a surgical operation is, in fact, a stressful experience for anybody, but it is often worse for children. Stress levels tend to be at their highest during the transfer to the operating room, for which the child has to be moved from their hospital bed to a stretcher. The situation can become even more stressful in cases when the young patient is forced to wait outside the operating room for a considerable amount of time, something that is not so infrequent. This sequence of events could easily create a mix of stress, anxiety and fear in adults – all feelings that are naturally amplified when dealing with children. It is for this reason that Cieli Azzurri has elected to invest resources on a project that has the objective of improving the quality of the hours that precede a surgical operation for children hospitalized at Milan’s Policlinic Hospital.
In order to reach this objective, we intend to launch two separate initiatives. The first has the aim of providing the Policlinic’s Pediatric Surgery Unit with a stretcher that has been modified to look more colourful and captivating than an average, cold-looking steel stretcher. This modified vehicle would, of course, maintain all the certifications and safety standards of a normal stretcher: it would simply sport a “softer” look. Some of the ideas that we are currently working on include a colourful locomotive, a stylized taxi or a little plane. This approach has already been successfully used in other facilities, and it aims to alleviate the psychological weight of a transfer to an operating room by transforming it in a sort of “travel”, in an adventure. Little things like this can actually make a great deal of difference in the mental state with which a child approaches this experience, and having a captivating-looking stretcher would contribute to letting the child’s fantasy run wild, thus distracting them from the situation.
The second initiative, on the other hand, would focus on the waiting area in which patients have to stay while the operating room is being prepared. The intention is to designate a part of this area to be used just for children, and to outfit it with television screens or monitors on which to broadcast cartoons or other relaxing images and videos. The objective is still to distract children, helping them to forget, at least for a time, the situation that they are in, and thus helping them to get through what can be a very stressful waiting period.
We are convinced that these two changes would make a substantial difference in the experience that a child in need of a surgical operation would have to face during their hospitalization. We aim to help making this experience as little traumatic as possible, alleviating the psychological weight on both the young patients and their families. If you wish to support us in this endeavour, kindly visit the “What You Can Do” section of this website. For an online donation, you can click on the “Donate Now” button in the top-right corner of this page; by selecting “Without Fear” from the options available you can choose to support this project directly.