After the 99 degree weather in Japan, travel to Iceland called for wooly socks and a winter hat. During my first day in Reykjavik, I met with Dr. Drífa Björk Guðmundsdóttir, a psychologist who served as her country’s delegate at the first global summit on psychosocial pediatric care in 2014. She hosted me at Landspitali, the National University Hospital of Iceland.
Our morning together included a tour of the pediatric inpatient unit, physical therapy department, clinic and NICU, and an hour spent in conversation with some of Dr. Drifa’s colleagues, a physical therapist, hospital play specialist, nurse, nurse manager and social worker from a non-profit agency that serves hospitalized children and their families. We discussed best practice for helping parents support and prepare their children for hospitalization. It was clear to me that these professionals held many of the same values and goals for supporting children that we have in the US.
I enjoyed our conversation tremendously, but I must admit, I treasured my time with Sigurbjörg Guttormsdóttir (thankfully nicknamed Sibba, but pronounced “Sippa”!). Sibba is one of the two hospital play specialists, and she has worked at the hospital for 25 years. A kindergarten teacher who received training in Sweden and Oregon, she wrote a thesis on play materials to use with children. Sibba welcomed me to her playroom and proudly shared its history and resources, inviting me to sit down and play almost immediately.
Here is the game of choice, Rush Hour.