There’s nothing more comforting to a child staying at the hospital for medical care then cuddling up to its mom or dad when in need of consoling. Or a reassuring smile from their parent when they don’t understand what’s going on. That having your parents near helps children heal faster seems evident. They feel safer and sleep better, parents can help the children eat regularly and in addition parents are guided through the entire recovery process, which helps with the rehabilitation period. “As an intern in The Netherlands, I have experienced how it used to be in the past, when those needs were not included in the healing process. Children need that emotional support through their parent’s presence. It truly helps”, RMHC volunteer Xandra explains.
21st Century Medical Care is something we have gotten accustomed to. Quality service, high-end facilities and caring medical staff and volunteers is what our hospital upholds as its standards, and we have come to expect it. The same counts for being able to stay with your children when they are receiving medical care at the hospital, sleeping near your child so he or she can feel at ease, or visiting a play room together. However, just a few decades ago, parents weren’t even allowed to visit their children at the hospital every day, let alone sleep over. Volunteer Xandra Boutmy-Winkel recalls her experience during that time, as an intern nurse at a hospital in the Netherlands. Many times, the focus lay on keeping deceases contained, which meant strict regulations regarding visitors. Even parents. “It was so heartbreaking to experience the children going through that. Sometimes they would have to go a week without hearing from their parents, as many times the hospital was not in the vicinity of their parental home”, Xandra explains. As an intern this truly touched her in the deepest way.
Life moved her in another direction. She eventually decided to become a flight attendant and moved to Curaçao, and together with her husband she raised her two, now adult, children. After her retirement, something deep inside drove her to become a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Curaçao and she joined the team in June 2018, where she often volunteers during the morning shift.
With time and experience came incredible progress. No longer are children separated from their parents when receiving medical care at the hospital. Quite the contrary. The importance of caring for the entire families has now moved much more to the forefront, and Xandra is able to be part of a chain that focusses on the healing and recovery of the child as well as ensuring a comforting experience for the families. “I’m very pleased to see how much progress there has been in terms of providing such a facility and service for families. When aiding the families, it’s impossible to be superficial or at a distance. You connect with each person, You care for their wellbeing. And being able to do anything at all, be it seemingly minor or other, truly fills me up with a warm feeling. Now, when leaving after a shift, it’s often times filled with joy, knowing that the families are surrounded by all kinds of people that wish to help and comfort them as well. This is very helpful for the children.”
Each volunteer at Ronald Mc Donald House Charities Curaçao Foundation, in their own special way, offers support to families of children staying at the hospital for medical care. Their helping hands, listening ears and pro-active support are a source of comfort and ease for the families going through a difficult period of time while their child is receiving medical care at or through Curaçao Medical Center. Our volunteers freely offer their time and energy for which the RMHC is eternally grateful. More volunteers are needed to welcome and care for the families. Become a volunteer. Click here to register. Thank you!