The Friendly Neighbourhood Clinic

The sounds that emanate from the dentist’s clinic in our neighbourhood are the regular ones – of the drill, spit vacuum and water being sprayed on teeth. But those sounds are often drowned by children’s giggles. This must be our desi version of Patch Adams, I thought.

Even my little niece enjoys her visits to the doctor. In fact, this doctor’s clinic is nothing like what one is used to – a place which makes you have visions of strong nurses pinning you on a table for the doctor to poke a big, ferocious needle into you.

The Friendly Neighbourhood Clinic

The Friendly Neighbourhood Clinic [Illustration by Shinod AP]

Most private clinics in Delhi are becoming increasingly child friendly. A lot of them go out of their way to make children feel comfortable. The clinic in my neighbourhood offers a wide variety of distractions for the child.

While children are waiting for the doctor, s/he can watch movies, read, draw or play video games. The baby chairs set up in an open space gives him/her ample space to run around and play hide and seek behind pillars with newfound friends. Can you believe it, once I saw a child wearing a pair of sunglasses while he was being given a shot.

Once the patient is at ease and ready for the procedure, the doctor can use the ‘tell, show, do’ method so the child will know what is going on. Doctors believe that if the child gets very little or no time to imagine what is going to happen, it reduces his fear of visiting the doctor. In other words, make sure that the strong-nurses-ferocious-needles story does not take shape at all.

There are very few clinics like this in Delhi and even fewer elsewhere. Ideally, such clinics should become an yardstick for all hospitals to follow.

And, one hopes that instead of changing the design of individual clinics, the concept of child friendly hospitals be institutionalised by the concerned authorities. This would ensure that taking children to hospitals is not as arduous a task as it is now.