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Frans Hiddema

CEO of Oogzieken­huis Rotterdam

Dia­logue in the dark

The fear of becom­ing blind is some­thing every­body can relate to. Just close your eyes and imag­ine the world will always remain dark like that.

Frans Hiddema’s main focus is to reduce the fear of the hos­pi­tals patients. ‘Scared patients run a higher risk of some­thing going wrong. The less afraid, the more sat­is­fied peo­ple are. This is an evidence-based result. The Oogzieken­huis has 9.2 score on a scale from 1–10 for cus­tomer con­fi­dence. Safety and fear reduc­tion is some­thing we strongly believe in.’

Fear reduc­tion to Hid­dema means cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment in which peo­ple feel at ease. The com­plete inte­rior design of the hos­pi­tal is aimed at that. With the ren­o­va­tion of the hos­pi­tal a few years ago, the require­ment was to make the inte­rior as bright as pos­si­ble. This is quite the oppo­site of the orig­i­nal 1950th design. At that time the inte­rior of the hos­pi­tal was made as dark as pos­si­ble because it was thought that eye research ben­e­fited from darkness.

The mate­ri­als used in the inte­rior design, such as par­quet floor­ing and other tra­di­tional mate­ri­als, are also intended to make peo­ple feel at ease. The emi­nent qual­ity of this pio­neer­ing hos­pi­tal is reflected in the mod­ern and sus­tain­able mate­ri­als that have been used through­out the build­ing and in the design fur­ni­ture. Art can also help reduce fear. The Oogzieken­huis art col­lec­tion is of out­stand­ing qual­ity and reflects on eyes and the senses in gen­eral. For exam­ple, a patient wait­ing for cataract surgery can lis­ten to audio art com­posed by Cilia Erens of sounds of a Japan­ese nightin­gale and waves break­ing on the Scot­tish coast. The art aims to reduce stress so that exam­i­na­tions and surgery can be per­formed with as lit­tle dis­tress and fear of blind­ness pos­si­ble. Hid­dema is per­ma­nently improv­ing and devel­op­ing on the hospital’s fear reduc­ing fea­tures and is as unique as suc­cess­ful in his approach.

Frans Hid­dema has been CEO of the Rot­ter­dam Oogzieken­huis (Eye Hos­pi­tal) since 1990. Pre­vi­ously he worked as a doc­tor in Ghana and Cameroon.