As at the previous Oktoberfest, the employees of WaldrichSiegen and Herkules at the Siegen site again diligently collected donations for the Kinderinsel, a project of the DRK-Kinderklinik in Siegen at the company's own Christmas market - The impressive sum of 2,700 euros was handed over to the facility on the Wellersberg in Siegen in January 2023.
Head physician Dr. Rainer Blickheuser explains in an interview what is so special about this project and why donations are essential. The facility was created 20 years ago based on the idea of to create an alternative to the intensive care unit for permanently ventilated children and adolescents in the form of a residential facility with interdisciplinary care close to the hospital.
The children, who often have physical or mental disabilities in addition to impaired respiratory function, are cared for there in a homelike environment by doctors, therapists and nursing staff around the clock.
What exactly does the interdisciplinary care of the children look like?
RB: First and foremost, Mrs. Mosler, senior physician and specialist in anesthesia and intensive care medicine, and I, chief physician and specialist in anesthesia and palliative medicine, form the medical management here. We enlist the support of physicians from the corresponding specialties at the children's hospital as needed.
Of course, the nursing staff, who have very close contact with the children and care for them on a daily basis, are particularly important. In addition to the doctors and nurses, there are physical therapists, educators, and remedial therapists. Through daily physiotherapy, music and art therapy or animal assisted therapy, the children are supported in their development.
The care and support of the children are very personnel-intensive and unfortunately there are fewer and fewer successors. It is also a very special profession, because you work with seriously ill people every day. However, some people explicitly choose this profession for this very reason.
Are there also volunteers in this context?
RB: Especially during the time when there is no therapy, there are so-called caregivers who spend time with the children. They play, read, paint, make music or simply spend time together. That is also very important for the children. Unfortunately, volunteer work is becoming increasingly rare. Therefore, volunteers are always needed.
What is special about the Kinderinsel in Siegen?
RB: The young patients come from all over Germany, because the Kinderinsel in Siegen is unique in this form due to its direct connection to the children's hospital and the interdisciplinary care. What is so special about the facility is that the children have a nice home despite their underlying illness. Each child has his or her own room, which may be furnished individually without anyone noticing that it is an intensive care unit.
Why are donations in general so important for the facility?
RB: We are currently planning a big project. The two areas of Kinderinsel are to be merged into one building. The old building of Kinderinsel 2 is too cramped, the distances too long, and the shortage of staff mentioned before causes supply bottlenecks. For this reason, we are planning to add an extension to the low-rise building of Children's Island 1 in the next few years, so that distances will be shorter in the future and operations will be possible more quickly. In addition, the equipment will no longer be needed in duplicate. In this way, good care and supply can be ensured throughout, even with fewer staff.
Are there other ways to support the Kinderinsel?
RB: Basically, all donations, large or small, are always welcome. They help us in our day-to-day work or in the purchase of new equipment. In addition to monetary and in-kind donations, we are also very happy to have volunteers who spend time with the children.
What do you wish for the future?
RB: We would like to be able to ensure our standard of care for the children throughout the whole year, both in terms of care and volunteering, even if the staffing situation is difficult at the moment. We want to mobilize people, recruit new staff and, of course, enable the children to participate in life. That would be important to us, so that we can carry the concept further.
The donation from the HerkulesGroup companies will support the purchase of a new transport stretcher, which is urgently needed for the children. The new stretcher helps to ensure that the children can lie pain-free and in a stable position. Due to its light weight and maneuverability, it is ideal for walks. Maximilian Thoma, President & CEO of the companies within the HerkulesGroup, praises the special commitment of the facility: "The Kinderinsel is a great local project of immense importance that I have been following for a long time. The work and care given to the seriously ill children and their families are invaluable. As a family business, we take every opportunity to raise awareness and support the project."