Create A Welcoming Place In An Inhospital Place – Speech by Valeria Viarengo

Between the 19th and the 21st of May in Porto (Portugal) took place the “Humanism in Surgery” Symposium. The last day was dedicated to The European Narrative Medicine Society (EUNAMES) Congress. We are happy to shere some of the speeches and slides of the participant.

Valeria Viarengo, Major Hospital of Charity, Italy

I want to introduce you with this tour to my workplace, which is of course also the place I usually spend a large part of my life.

This, in front of me, is the main entrance of our patient clinic with various ambulatories.

As you may have noticed we are in the basement floor of the hospital so all the corridor are without windows and only artificial light is provided. The combination of these three factors create an anonymous and aseptic aesthetic. There are no differences between corridors and so it looks like a giant labyrinth were people often get lost, panic; this accumulates stress fue to the worry to be late or to not be able to find the right door.

My intentions were to modify slightly the appearance of the ambient creating a new space, more comfortable, lighter and colourful for the benefit of both patients and workers. For this reason I have installed to the wall this series of famous paintings  I was thinking at the long waiting of the patients for the exam result and for the sentence too. Often when I pass through I see them distracted by the painting, lingering in front of the pictures with a beneficial effect on their behaviour. 

I have installed also a letter of a coworker, a nurse, that has thanked me for the installation.

This was called  “Notre dame du covìd”, by friends of mine: I made by myself an year ago….

Finally, this is my office. As you can see there are some 3D bonsai’s reproductions that often catches the attention of patients that pass through and touch it thinking that is a real bonsai.

To me is important to interact positively with the person I have in front, to understand their feelings and their life, that is happening to them at home or at work. Most of them replays after the intervention that have never experienced this kind of approach previously in an hospital.

This is the break in the wall: an ideological escape to the sun and to the seaside.

This last painting was given to me as a present by a patient after a surgical intervention. It’s quite unusual: patient return to the surgeon , they give him presents… but never remember nothing about anaesthesiologist….

Lastly, I have changed the standard orientation of the desk by 90 degrees. In a proxemic situation is better not being in front of the patient, but to be alongside, in a collaborative and colloquial situation that helps the dialogue and the diagnosis.

One day arrived to me a nurse. She‘d worked in intensive terapy, during the lookdown, and she collect some patient’s story. She wanted to make a book. And asked my help…..

I’m not a writer, I never published someting…, but I take the challenge.

Now Eleana is far away from Novara, so a book, with promotion and so on, is quite impossible for me.

Driving to the work, a morning I had a lighting, a flash, an idea: a blog.

Only to give satisfaction to some patients that are expecting to see their word made pubblic and if we do nothing at all it’s quite betray their trust

I choosed this flower as imagine, because it remind me the covid’s structure, and at the same time, human things lability.

First there is a introduction of mine, then a simply explication about narrative medicine. The there are 11 story, from pazients, parents, nurses and finally an anaesthesiologist.

I choose a music, for each post, than the autor’s story, than a briefly comment of mine.

The first immagin is a charon’s book, because the phase: honoring patient’s story… that may be the title of the blog…

I made an brief comment for each story helpin me with some easier tools of Narrative medicine, to light something that can be forget, not see with a superficial reading

Obviously is in Italian.

I’s only to thank people that gave us their emotion, their tought, nothing more.

The European Narrative Medicine Society was born from an idea of the Italian Society of Narrative Medicine (SIMeN), and  it is an association of non-profit researchers dedicated to the investigation of Medical Humanities and Humanities for Health in the medical, health care, social services.

The purpose of this European Society is to promote and strengthen dialogues, discussions on the present and the future of Medical Humanities and narrative medicine, for health professionals, researchers (both academics and non-academics), humanists, teachers and other professionals coming from every branch. All this with the aim to contribute to improve both the well-being of people who suffer from a physical condition or a mental illness, and the health workers, the caregivers, the social services and the citizenship.



We are always welcoming new members from around Europe and happy to broaden our host member community with people fro around the world. If you want to join us, please send a short profile to the above email and we will be in touch.

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