Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians visits SickKids
Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians visited The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) yesterday during a royal visit to Toronto – part of the first Belgian state visit to Canada in over 40 years.
Her Majesty was greeted in the Atrium by Dr. Michael Apkon, President and CEO of SickKids, and other SickKids representatives. As a trained speech therapist and psychologist, with an interest in child and youth mental health, the focus of her visit was on ways SickKids provides normalizing experiences for patients and families coping with hospitalization.
During her visit, she attended a private roundtable discussion to learn about mental health needs in Ontario, mental health research and programs at SickKids, as well as the hospital’s role in supporting the growth of community-based resources with the SickKids Community Centre for Mental Health. The roundtable was led by Dr. Peter Szatmari, Chief, Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative and Christina Bartha, Executive Director of the Brain and Mental Health Program at SickKids. Other SickKids representatives at the table included Karima Karmali, Executive Director, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care; Jeff Mainland, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Quality, Performance and Communications; and Dr. Luc Mertens, a Belgian native and Section Head, Echocardiography, Labatt Family Heart Centre.
She was then given a brief tour of SickKids by Apkon and Karmali, where she visited the 4D Cardiology Playroom and the Multisensory Room and learned more about SickKids' approach to child and family-centred care. Joined by SickKids patients, families and Apkon, she participated in a Circle Time music therapy session with staff from the Beanstalk Program, which addresses the developmental needs of young patients by offering tailored developmentally focused care, as well as specialized toys and equipment to help hospitalized babies catch up to their peers and reach coveted “firsts.”
Karmali then brought her Majesty through some of SickKids’ unique Family Spaces, including the Multisensory Room, where patients can engage with and respond to a variety of sensory experiences that are different from hospital stimuli to help reduce anxiety and stress.
During her last stop in Marnie’s Studio, Her Majesty signed the SickKids official guestbook and viewed photos from the 1977 visit to SickKids by the former King and Queen of the Belgians, King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola. She was also presented with a drawing created by a SickKids patient as well as the SickKids history book.