Always remember to question

“Sydämen asialla” gala dinner was organized last night to support the new Center for Child and Adolescent Medicine that is being built in Tampere University Hospital. In the end of 2019, all specialist level medical and psychiatric care of minors in the university hospital will be provided in the new Center ( This will essentially improve co-operation between medical and psychiatric care, as well as between child and adolescent psychiatry. For us in Department of Adolescent Psychiatry, a great improvement will be that all our own activities are under the same roof; we currently operate in three locations, and our facilities are also very inconvenient.

I am delighted that many people, societies and organizations wish to support the new children’s hospital and donate so that we can get something extra for the children and adolescents, beyond the medical care itself. Being hospitalized can be both frightening and boring. Donations allow for creating more pleasing, interesting and relaxing interiors, and for obtaining plenty of modern solutions for inspiring play and connecting with family and friends while perhaps being tied to bed. In psychiatry, children and adolescents of course are not in bed. But they similarly need pleasing interiors and age-appropriate activities during hospital stay. In adolescent psychiatry, joining peers for a variety of group activities is a part of therapeutic community, and participating in activities that same aged peers prefer outside the hospital is rehabilitation among those who need long inpatient periods. In the adolescent forensic unit we have an endless need of sporting and outdoors equipment. Thanks to donations we have always had better program than to sit in front of the TV indoors, or walking around the park outdoors.

However, now I have learned that it is also absolutely necessary to question charity. Firstly, welfare society should take care of the sick. It may be fundamentally wrong to donate and to accept donations to an activity that should be on the responsibility of the society and financed by taxes. And if the medical activity indeed is financed by taxes, it may be erratic to donate and accept donations to add extra comfort, distraction and fun. Those who enjoy medical treatment financed by taxes are already getting more than many others from the society, so why should they also have fun? Isn’t it enough that they get treatment?  And if some donate and others cannot do so, this may result in some feeling inferior to others, and thus such activity should be banned. (A very Finnish problem.) Of course there is also the problem that if you donate to something, there will surely be equally if not more important targets you ignore. Wrong! Finally, it may be fundamentally wrong that some gather to charity events, dress to the nines, eat well and enjoy performances while the targets of the charity suffer. (But if you attend a dinner dressed to the nines, eat well and enjoy a show without donating, it is nobody’s business but yours.)

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the charity gala, and I am happy that people think about children and adolescents who need to be hospitalized, and that people care so much that they donate, and organize events to collect money to donate. Even if they also pay taxes! I shall be happy to attend a charity fashion show next week, also organized to donate to our new hospital.