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Being discreet is my job

At Dynamo, doctors and nurses manage the most diverse and complex pathologies in each session. But nobody notices them because they are without white coat. The goal is to allow everyone to experience their stay at Camp in safety and without worries.

“We have to foresee the needs of a child and do everything to be able to host him. Our attention must not be focused exclusively on the disease, but on the needs that derive from it ». Daniele Bertin, medical director of the Camp and specialist in pediatric oncohematology at Regina Margherita in Turin, explains Dynamo’s approach in the management of the many pathologies hosted in each session. Children (6-12 years) and adolescents (13-17 years) with severe and chronic illnesses are the primary recipients of Recreational Therapy programs. The young guests come from all over Italy, through recruiting that follows medical criteria shared with the main hospitals in the country.

Since its opening, the Camp has welcomed an ever-increasing number of children and teenagers, reaching 1,238 in 2019. In particular, from 2017 to 2019, about 200 more campers were hosted. The growth, equal to 33%, was also possible thanks to the structural changes of the Club Med (the internal medical center) and of the houses which, through effective control tools, make it possible to manage increasingly complex situations, paying meticulous attention to new needs. «The selection criteria do not concern only the type of disease, but the degree of autonomy of the individual», Bertin specifies. «They are poles that shift from year to year. Not to exclude anyone, but to ensure that all those we welcome can enjoy their holiday without running risks».

The Camp, supported on a medical-scientific level by the partnership with the Meyer Hospital in Florence, is designed to be as inclusive as possible. Accessibility is not only favored by the absence of physical barriers. Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC), introduced in 2016, allows for example to communicate even with children who are unable to use verbal language. The Dynamo philosophy provides that doctors and specialized nurses are always present and ready to intervene, 24 hours a day, but “hidden” and discreet, in order to allow children to live a special experience in total safety and serenity, without the impression of being in a medical facility. Doctors and nurses are therefore dressed like the staff: «We only have the lanyard around the neck with our name white instead of green, so that the new volunteers can recognize us». Another very important rule is that only doctors and nurses have access to the medical records of motorhomes. Staff and volunteers, on the other hand, just know what the campers can do or not.

In addition to protecting the privacy of the little guests, this allows the dynamìci to interact with them avoiding seeing their illness with the child. The management of the most disparate pathologies is not the prerogative of doctors, but also of the staff, who must organize the activities allowing everyone to have fun. «Welcoming children with different diseases in the same session means letting them experience sharing», explains Vito Nigro, director of the Camp. «To achieve this goal, our preparation is essential. Parents fill out a detailed questionnaire, which varies according to the disease, which makes us understand the level of severity, but also the character of the child. In the case of quadriplegia, for example, he asks himself if the child can move his hands, if he can hold an object, up to where he raises his arms. All this information is very useful for planning activities. If we get to the session prepared, we can immediately focus on the needs of the campers ». However, it can happen that parents take some essential details for granted, so it is crucial for the staff to observe the children as they arrive. «The key is to adapt. We need to be able to rethink activities at all times. As soon as we become aware of a need it is necessary to act promptly. For this reason, we never stop comparing ourselves, always ready to get involved and to meet any need».

For some years now, even children who need a night respirator have been able to access the Camp, thanks to the collaboration with the Respirando association of Pisa and the doctors of Bambin Gesù, including Professor Renato Cutrera, who follows young patients with these needs. «To make this leap we have intensified night-time nursing care and made some changes in the houses,» explains Bertin. «Glass partitions have been created, which muffle the noise of the respirator, thus allowing these kids to sleep with other campers, without disturbing their sleep.» «For the first time they were able to spend a holiday away from their family,» says Dr. Serena Caggiano, who accompanied some girls to the Camp with the Respirando association. «As the days went by, they learned to handle masks and fans, a first step towards independence. The most beautiful image we take home is the smile of these girls, grateful for understanding that they too can claim the right to be happy».


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