Bringing Smiles to Little Patients

Bringing Smiles to Little Patients

I spent the week of December 15 – 22, 2011, in Vietnam working with a large hospital consisting of 800 beds.

I spent the week of December 15 – 22, 2011, in Vietnam working with a large hospital consisting of 800 beds. I worked with a social worker whom we provided a scholarship to study social work fifteen years ago.  She is now a senior social worker in the Long an Hospital. It is a general hospital in Long an province, a two hour drive from HCM city (Saigon) Vietnam.  Despite that her work had not been appreciated or recognized as it should have been; she did many good things.  Now with the new decision of the Minister of Health: “the development of social work profession in the health sector” the administration of the hospital gave her more respect and appreciation.  I have been networking with her for fifteen years.  Most recently we re-connected with each other and communicate more often.  I saw the needs of the hospital and she talked with the director about me and my experiences and they invited me to go back to work with them in their hospital so I was went and did need assessment and planning for the future with her and the Hospital directors and doctors.

In 2012 they might wish for me to spend more time there to help the social worker enhance her work to help the doctors and nurses and hospital staff and see the work.  They would also like me to work with them to have more cooperation between the medical and social fields, to assist the patients and families and community to improve the whole mental health concept realized, and to lessen the pain the anxiety of the patients and families as well as reduce the stress of the medical staff.

I did observe and had many new ideas and I invite social work students from the next province (nearby state) to come and help me.  So, the four most active SW students of year 3 and 4 of Dong Thap University drove a three hour long trip on two motorbikes to reach Long an Hospital and they worked with us the whole day and returned to their home in Dong Thap by 9 p.m.  They started out at 6 a.m.

You can see how dedicated they are! We had a wonderful day setting up a computer for our work room, setting up a library of social work books, and prepared a trolley full of toys, children picture books, games, doctors’ play uniforms I brought from Laos as samples, some simple musical instruments, puppets crayons and coloring books etc.  We made a little theatre sign, wore silly little clothes, acted like a red nose clown, and shook the little drums around the children’s department calling mothers and little patients to the big empty areas where the elevators are and we had a show there.

Twenty one mothers and a few fathers and twenty children ages from a few months to 8 and 9 years old gathered sitting on the mats or floor and actively participated in the little 40 minute show by the four Social work students including puppets, storytelling, acting, singing.  This is the first time this ever happened in this hospital, maybe most hospitals in Vietnam. I just wish to try this as an example of how we can lessen the boredom, the worries of mothers, and bring some laughter, smiles to the little poor patients who have nothing to do after the doctor check-up.  Once a while doctors or nurses or cleaners passing by also smiled and wondering what was happening in the hospital.  I think in a way we brought some special Christmas “presents” to them. It is pity that I am not there during this Christmas otherwise we would bring more toys for each little patient.

Xuyen Dangers, Laos

Xuyen Dangers is a social work supervisor in Laos who trains Social work university students as interns in Donkoi Children Development Center.