HOW KRTEK HELPS
The activities carried out by Krtek COEF are built upon three pillars.
Pillar 1 Personalised treatment and research of childhood cancer
Krtek COEF supports personalized treatment, which is an innovative and less toxic method of treating childhood oncological diseases. A pediatric patient in whom standard treatment has failed is given a “tailored treatment” based on a specialised diagnosis. As part of this diagnosis, molecular analysis of the genome and mutations causing the growth of the oncological disease is performed. This method of treatment is also less toxic due to the precise targeting of specific cells. Doctors also emphasize this treatment in the context of a lower incidence of adverse drug reactions. The existence of the first pillar including personalized treatment, research and education of the staff of the Department of Pediatric Oncology at UH Brno is made possible by close links between the clinic and friendly research centres such as: CEITEC (carries out diagnosis of the tumour and the patient’s innate disposition by means of molecular genetic analysis, on the basis of which the most appropriate treatment is sought for each child), ICRC (carries out the research part of the projects, including advanced analysis of the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid), Masaryk Institute of Oncology (one of the workplaces in the project of vaccine production from dendritic cells, analyses immune responses to vaccine treatment), MU Faculty of Medicine and MU Faculty of Science (the activities of the DPO UH Brno and the above mentioned faculties are connected through the activities of ILBIT, i.e. the Laboratory of Biomedical Technologies on the MU Campus). In addition, DPO UH Brno participates in regular meetings of specialists from various medical disciplines, the so-called molecular board, whose task is to find the optimal combination of treatments for patients from DPO UH Brno for whom the standard approach is failing.
DPO UH Brno performs comprehensive diagnostics, differential diagnostics and comprehensive therapy of tumour diseases in patients from birth to 19 years of age. The primary catchment area is the whole of Moravia and Silesia. In addition, it provides care for patients over the age of 19 years if it is an ongoing therapy started in childhood or for patients with a cancer that is typical for childhood and requires specific pediatric procedures.
Pillar 2 Improving the quality of life of patients and their families
For pediatric patients and their loved ones, treatment is very demanding, not only psychologically, but often financially as well. As part of its second pillar of activities, Krtek is dedicated to psychosocial and material support for patients and their families during and after oncological disease treatment. The second pillar includes five areas: providing social assistance, legal assistance, organizing rehabilitation and resocialization activities, providing accommodation, fulfilling wishes.
COEF LODGING HOUSE
Krtek operates a lodging house located on the premises of the children’s hospital. Children from all over Moravia, Silesia and parts of Bohemia are treated at the DPO UH Brno. The lodging house has thus become an indispensable facility for oncology patients and their families during treatment and follow-ups. It allows children to stay outside the hospital environment during treatment and at the same time takes into account the financial situation of families and their entitlement to accommodation as accompaniment for hospitalized children. The capacity of the lodging house is up to 20 people.
REHABILITATION AND RESOCIALIZATION ACTIVITIES
After the end of treatment, Krtek COEF tries to facilitate the children’s return to normal life by organizing rehabilitation and resocialization events in which they can participate together with their siblings, friends and parents. Each year, Krtek organizes a summer and winter camp; in spring and autumn, it organizes family weekends, trips abroad for Krtek teenagers and other one-day or multi-day events, whether cultural or sporting. The camp is often the first period of time that our Krtek children spend after completing their oncological treatment without their parents, only in a group of their peers. In addition to camp games, Krtek offers children an appropriate amount of sports activities, art activities, walks, board games and relaxation.
Relaxation weekends in the Czech Republic and trips to explore European countries are designed especially for Krtek teenagers, the so-called KRTEENS. Relaxation stays for families with children undergoing active treatment and those who have just completed it provide parents with the opportunity to share their fears and hopes related to oncological treatment, allowing them to support each other and establish closer relationships. For children, such a group provides security and understanding from peers with similar experiences. All of these stays are designed so that children whose physical disabilities have complicated their lives as a result of oncological disease treatment can participate.
Krtek organizes camps for 170 children and weekend stays for 50 families every year.
The Krtek COEF team includes a social coordinator who is in close contact with families whose child is being treated at the DPO UH Brno. Families are also significantly supported by the Dobrý anděl.Foundation. Contact of the families with the Foundation is mediated by a social coordinator. Social assistance also includes financial contributions to help alleviate the difficult living situation of the whole family. Krtek COEF purchases compensatory aids and contributes to the cost of medicines, wigs and the cryopreservation of sperm. Parents can find more important information on the portal of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
If necessary, a lawyer is available to patients and their parents to deal with situations related to treatment (e.g. reimbursement of treatment pursuant to Section 16 of the Public Health Insurance Act, employment law issues, etc.). We are grateful for the support of Roche, s. r. o. in this area.
A MORE PLEASANT STAY AT DPO UH BRNO
It is also important that patients of different age categories feel comfortable in the hospital environment as much as possible. We also do not overlook the parents who spend time at the bedside of their children and we try to look after their comfort as our capabilities allow. Krtek COEF takes a great deal of care in equipping the playrooms, providing tablets, laptops, art supplies, games, interactive aids and other play elements. The stay of children at DPO UH Brno is also made more pleasant by famous personalities from the cultural and sports world, visits to the Brno Zoo, etc. We appreciate the cooperation with medical clowns, who light up the faces of not only our patients but also the medical staff. Other friends of Krtek include the associationONKA. Based on their own experience with their child’s oncological illness, they help other parents.
PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT FOR YOUNG ADULTS AFTER CHILDHOOD ONCOLOGICAL DISEASE
Currently, the aim of Krtek COEF is also to focus on psychological support for young adults – i.e. former Pediatric oncology patients from DPO UH Brno. Since autumn 2021, a psychologist who has experience with psychological counselling from DPO UH Brno has been part of the dispensary oncology outpatient clinic at St. Anne’s University Hospital, thanks to Krtek COEF.
This outpatient clinic has been operating in Brno since 2016 and provides highly specialised preventive and curative care to patients who were treated for an oncological disease in childhood; it continuously monitors and evaluates the incidence of possible late consequences of cancer and its treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, biological or surgical treatment) and investigates the factors that influence them, in close cooperation with the Department of Pediatric Oncology of the University Hospital Brno, where most of the cured patients were treated. The aim of the dispensary is to reduce the incidence and severity of adverse effects of treatment and to provide our patients and their families with solutions to improve their health where needed and to achieve an optimal quality of life after demanding anti-cancer treatment in childhood.
Pillar 3 Home care
The home care team consists of a doctor, four nurses and a social coordinator. This team is available to families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In practice, this usually means that for children who are no longer undergoing active anti-cancer treatment, treatment of unpleasant symptoms is first set up during hospitalisation at DPO UH Brno, after which families are provided with devices, aids and some medicines free of charge and can go home.
Krtek COEF provides (buys or lends) the necessary medical aids, e.g. bed-sore pads, rehabilitation aids, toilet chairs, oxygen concentrators, wheelchairs, etc.