My name is Alice Hanna, and I am 18 years old. I have always had a close relationship with Evelina London.
Aside from my mum being the medical director, I have watched my family members being looked after by many people, been a patient myself and completed work experience in various departments in the hospital. I’ve always been very sporty; I play hockey and football, so when combined with clumsiness and a general rough and tumble attitude to life, the result has been Evelina London nursing a few of my broken bones. That’s where my patient ‘journey’ ends really. However, my experience as the sibling of a patient is a bit more interesting.
A few weeks after my younger sister was born, she was admitted with bronchiolitis.
I remember visiting her in hospital with my dad and little brother. I was 6 at the time, so I don’t remember much about it, but I have no recollection of any intense feelings of panic or fear, so I’d say the nurses and doctors did a pretty good job of reassuring us as well as my parents. Eva left the hospital well but also with a very apt name.
More recently my little sister was admitted for an emergency operation to remove her appendix.
She had been sick for a short time and whilst I maintained that she was putting it on for time off school, my mum reckoned it was appendicitis and took her to the Emergency Department straight away. They left that morning and by 1pm, Eva had gone into theatre.
What astounded me was how quickly the team acted. My idea of doctors has been influenced primarily by my mum, hence I’ve always seen them as rushed off their feet, going at 100mph. Whether the doctors caring for Eva had 5 other places to be, as my mum usually does, I don’t know. The point is it never felt like they did. They ensured that we all felt like they wanted to be with Eva, helping and talking to her. That’s another thing that surprised me about how they looked after my sister. Despite having a doctor for a mum, and one the team knew at that, the nurses and doctors never spoke to her before Eva. They treated my mum as nothing more than a parent, and prioritised making sure that Eva knew what was happening. For Eva, I think that made a big difference. She was evidently quite scared and in pain, so for her to understand what was happening to her was incredibly important.
The Hanna family’s relationship with Evelina London doesn’t end there. My little brother, Daniel, has asthma and has needed to attend the hospital from time to time for treatment with a nebuliser.
The fantastic thing about Evelina London is that whenever we’ve come in to be treated for our various scrapes and coughs, there’s always been something to do or someone to meet. The staff recognise that life goes on, even when you’re stuck in bed all day, and they strive to make life in hospital as fun as it would be outside.
On a day to day basis, Evelina London means little more to me than my mum’s workplace. Who you work with is incredibly important; I’ve grown up knowing her colleagues from intensive care and beyond. I don’t know many adults who can use team and friends interchangeably. That’s one of the reasons Evelina is different. It is a community of people, as opposed to a body of co-workers. There’s always someone to make the down days less low, and the up days even higher which is pretty special, and definitely not like everywhere else.
For a long time, I wanted to be a doctor, at one point I vaguely thought about being an intensive care neonatologist. I even did some work experience to see if medicine was for me. I loved every minute of it and even though I realised medicine is a highly unsuitable profession for me (with my profound dislike for chemistry and biology), I still value every experience I had at Evelina London. I came out with a greater comprehension of how fragile life can be, the most important lesson being that when you put a bunch of highly intelligent, caring and dedicated individuals together, the outcome is truly exceptional.
Medicine aside, I was lucky enough to do another bit of work experience with the communications team. I was struck by how much they care about what they do. The amount of effort they all put into making Evelina London a place that the wider public know and trust is commendable. Jessica Law summed up perfectly what it’s like to work there. She said “I couldn’t work anywhere that I wasn’t 100% behind”. The people in communications, and everywhere in the hospital really, don’t work there because they have to, they work there because they want to.
The teams want to see children live to their full potential, and form the new generation of creative minds, sporting heroes, phenomenal leaders and future innovators.
So on Evelina London’s 150th anniversary, I ask you to do one thing each day which is more than was expected of you. Instead of walking your dog, maybe walk someone else’s as well. If you’re going food shopping, do someone else’s while you’re at it.
Just like Evelina London does more than just help sick children, do more than just help yourself.