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Special emergency room planned for kids at Palmerston North Hospital

Photo by Mark Mitchell

Photo by Mark Mitchell

The Horowhenua New Zealand Trust is stepping up by putting $50,000 towards a Children’s Emergency Department within Palmerston North Hospital.

This is the first fundraising project for the new Palmerston North Hospital Foundation, of which former Horowhenua mayor Brendan Duffy is chairman.

Palmerston North Hospital is the main hospital for Horowhenua residents, providing 24-hour emergency care for Horowhenua families, he said.

A dedicated Emergency Department (ED) for children will be built next year within the existing footprint of the Palmerston North Hospital.

It will provide a separate waiting and treatment area for children, designed to meet their physical and emotional needs.

“The idea came from one of the clinicians in A&E who said a separate space for kids would make a big difference,” Duffy said. The room will be within the existing A&E department, which is about to be refurbished.

A child-friendly room with toys at the hospital emergency department would make life so much easier for injured or sick kids.

“It is a modestly-sized room where kids and their support persons can deal with the clinicians in a quiet, child-friendly environment, with child-sized beds and toys.”

Duffy said that he hoped the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust’s support will encourage other organisations from around the region to donate to the project.

“Currently, children in ED often have to wait alongside major trauma patients and those who are significantly influenced by drugs and alcohol. This can be noisy, busy and sometimes frightening for children.

“It’s heartening to have the support of the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust, who recognise the regional benefit this project will deliver and the difference it will make for thousands of families who use the hospital each year.”

He said the Hospital Foundation has already raised $300,000, and when it gets more than is needed for this project, any excess money will go to the next project.

Horowhenua New Zealand Trust trustee Larry Elison said the proposed new space will be of enormous benefit to Horowhenua families.

“This space will make a real difference to Horowhenua families seeking care at the hospital, with specialised equipment to cater for a range of developmental stages, disabilities, illnesses and injuries. As a region, we are thrilled to be a major sponsor of this project.

“We wanted to be seen to support this. Palmerston North Hospital services a very wide area, and the wider region should help them achieve this. I have been to A&E with a six-year-old grandchild, and the current department is a bit frightening and chaotic for children,” Ellison said.

Fellow Horowhenua New Zealand Trust trustee Te-Aroha Jennings said having a suitable environment for children in ED is especially important for families who are not based in Palmerston North.

“As a parent of young children, this project really resonates with me. In my experience, it’s usually late at night or on the weekend when you have to take your child to ED, and if you have other children, you’ve probably had to leave your partner or support person home with them.

“Heading into Palmerston North from Horowhenua, we often don’t have that local support. This project provides a safe, whānau-focused space for our Horowhenua families, away from home.

“When we heard about the plans for this room, we thought it would be good project for us to support. For parents, it is the only place we can go with sick or injured kids, and this new room will make hospital visits a more positive place for kids.”

The Children’s Emergency Department is the first fundraising project launched by the Palmerston North Hospital Foundation, an independent charitable trust working to improve health outcomes for communities in the Manawatū-Whanganui, Horowhenua, and Tararua regions.

The new children’s ED space will include additional bed capacity and feature décor, equipment, furniture, and play equipment in an environment suitable for children.

Original article by Janine Baalbergen, Horowhenua Chronicle/NZ Herald