CITYLAB010 IN THE SPOTLIGHT (I): KINDERCOPOLI, UNIQUE COMBINATION CONSULTATION FOR SICK CHILDREN
Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie.
‘We can give children more time and attention than I was used to in hospitals’
The Municipality of Rotterdam supports Rotterdam initiators with a progressive plan for the city with CityLab010. A total of 49 initiatives together received 3 million euros in 2021. We would like to put the spotlight on the three Life Sciences & Health initiatives. In part 1: KinderCoPoli, an idea created by the Rotterdam paediatrician Lindsay Silva. This initiative received a 25,000 euro grant.
The KinderCoPoli is a unique combination consultation for sick children. The paediatrician and the paediatric physiotherapist see the young patients at the same time, outside of the hospital. They also allow more time for a consultation. The healthcare professionals don’t just look at the complaint, but at lifestyle factors too. Attention is also paid to factors which could influence the child’s health later on in life, such as exercise, relaxation and nutrition. This is how children grow up to be healthy adults. We spoke with the initiator, the Rotterdam paediatrician Lindsay Silva.
HOW DID THE IDEA FOR THE KINDERCOPOLI FIRST COME ABOUT?
Lindsay: ‘I studied medicine at the Erasmus University. I did my PhD research at Generation R. One of the things which emerged from this was that socio-economic differences have a major impact on children’s health. The lower their socio-economic status, the worse their health. This isn’t just obvious in the first few years of life, but it also, for example, results in a shorter life expectancy. That was a real eye-opener, partly because I grew up in Delfshaven myself; a borough with a lower socio-economic score. From that point on I’ve always wondered: how can I use this data in my work?’
‘I worked in several hospitals as a paediatrician after graduating. I always ended up running into tight consultation times and the fact that children were out of the picture after referral. So I decided to work as an independent paediatrician, including in a health centre in Amsterdam. This is where I first met Linda Sluijs, from the children’s physiotherapy service Trias. We came up with the idea of a combined consultation together, during which the paediatrician and the paediatric physiotherapist assess the child at the same time. Outside of the hospital, with more time for a consultation.’
HOW DOES THIS SOLUTION MAKE THE CARE PROVIDED MORE EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT?
‘Every child deserves the right care in the right place. A large percentage of children can be treated outside of the hospital with a good network of healthcare professionals. This can include children with, for example, complaints like abdominal pain, headaches, obesity and intestinal problems. The hospital is currently still the standard place where children have to go. While the hospital is obviously a clinical environment; not a nice place to be for children. And more often than not, not exactly next door either.’
‘We can offer that local and accessible care with the KinderCoPoli. With more time, attention and a more homely atmosphere than is possible in hospitals. We are convinced that collaborations between different disciplines means better care. We proved that in the health centre where we worked together. We can also discuss additional matters like exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and screen use, by adopting a more extensive and broader view. We can prevent health problems later on in life by identifying, discussing and treating this in time. That’s obviously good for the child’s future, but it can definitely also serve to reduce future healthcare costs.’
HOW INNOVATIVE IS THE KINDERCOPOLI IDEA?
‘An integrated, neighbourhood-oriented approach like the one we want to set up doesn’t yet exist in Rotterdam. However, there are some combination consultations in hospitals. In The Hague, for example, there’s a special outpatients clinic for children with unexplained physical complaints. A paediatrician and psychologist work together there. To my knowledge, the medical supervision of children in a non-medical setting – on a large scale and focussed on prevention and the combination of mental and physical health – doesn’t exist yet.’
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THE 25,000 EURO GRANT FROM CITYLAB010?
‘This fantastic amount will allow me to take the first step towards the KinderCoPoli. That’s the setting up of my own practice: Kinderarts Dichtbij (Nearby Paediatrician). I am currently renting space within a health centre in Kralingen-Crooswijk, but hope to be able to move into my own space in Delfshaven in the summer. Trias children’s physiotherapy will also move in when that happens. And hopefully a paediatric dietician and psychologist at a later stage too, nicely completing our integral approach. ‘I will also be using the grant for a license for the electronic patient file. And to promote my practice. Other healthcare providers need to be made aware of this addition to existing healthcare services. And it goes without saying that Delfshaven’s residents also need to know that the KinderCoPoli exists.’
WHICH CHALLENGES DO YOU EXPECT DURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE KINDERCOPOLI?
‘There are a multitude of health challenges in Delfshaven and other parts of Rotterdam-West. There’s also a great deal of hidden poverty. The challenge is that children only end up at the KinderCoPoli once they’ve been referred by a healthcare provider. Not everyone will automatically go down that route. So I will have to head out into the neighbourhood myself too. To provide information and hold walk-in consultations. And subsequently reach the children who need it. But also their parents, because not all of them are well or fully informed about health matters.’
WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO BE IN A YEAR’S TIME?
‘We hope the KinderCoPoli will have its own place in Delfshaven by then and be fully operational, perhaps already with a dietician and psychologist on board too. I also hope we will be seen by both healthcare providers and local residents as a low-threshold and accessible place in the neighbourhood. And above all else, I hope we will already have made the necessary impact in a year’s time and therefore have been able to reduce health differences. Exactly as I once wanted, when I completed my PhD research at Generation R. To me this would mean I have come full circle.’
This article is part 1 of a series on the three Life Sciences & Health initiatives for Citylab010 2021. An overview of all 49 initiatives which have received funding from Citylab010 can be found in this article.
Date: 11 March 2022