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Lions make playscape a reality

Masterton Host Waipoua Lions Club president Gary Pickering hands over a cheque for $5000 to Bill Day, chairman of the Wellington Hospital Foundation, to help the new playscape for the Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital in Newtown. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

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Wellington’s new children’s hospital will benefit Wairarapa children who need tertiary level paediatric care, Masterton Medical GP and Lion’s member Richard McGrath says.

The Masterton Host Waipoua Lions Club donated $5000 to the Wellington Hospitals Foundation last week to help fund a modern playscape.

“The playscape looks potentially useful for rehabilitation purposes and for entertaining children visiting their brothers, sisters or cousins in the hospital,” McGrath said.

Wellington Hospitals Foundation chairman Bill Day said overseas hospitals were using playscapes for various therapies – “distraction is the biggest thing”.

“We’ve got two play therapists, that’s their job and they are like schoolteachers and they spend a lot of time with the children.”

Day was also positive about their simulation suite which they raised $300,000 to get.

“It is the only simulator aeroplane in the world that flies.”

Placed in the old operating theatre of the clinical services building at the hospital, Day said it was on “hydraulics and is an absolute replica – in better condition – of Life Flight’s two air ambulance aeroplanes and the nurses go in there and they practise”.

McGrath was also positive about the simulator being used as a teaching tool for flight nurses.

“The helicopter simulator will be useful for determining which staff are suited to the rigours of flight medicine and could raise some revenue if staff from foreign countries use it for training purposes”, McGrath said.

Construction on the Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital began in 2017 and was kickstarted by philanthropist Mark Dunajtschik, who along with partner Dorothy Spotswood donated $50m initially.

Dunajtschik, a concentration camp survivor from Germany, has been a substantial benefactor in the areas of education, health and sport – making significant donations to good causes in Wellington and nationally over the past forty years.

He told Stuff: “During my time as an apprentice, I had to live away from home and in the area where I was able to get an apprenticeship there was very little accommodation. The only place I could find was staying in a hostel for intellectually handicapped people, and that’s where I learned to appreciate how blessed you are to have a healthy mind and a healthy body as against people that are cripples or mentally impaired”.

“Most benefactors write out a cheque, but in this case, that wouldn’t get nearly as much done for the money. I can use my skill as a builder and developer to get the maximum value out of the $50 million I’m donating for our children.”

Day told the Times-Age it was the “desire of the hospital to have children home close to or with their whanau but not without clearance from the hospital and their clinicians”.

“We understand the average stay in the wards is about two or three days. There are however longer stays depending on the nature of the illness.

“Our goal is to have everything that goes in all brand new. Each child will have their own room, toilet, shower and a pull-down bed for parents to sleep on and all of that sort of stuff is being provided by the foundation.”

In February, Stuff reported an asbestos complication for the bridge intended to connect the main hospital to the upcoming children’s facility. But Day was positive about the other features drawing attention to the hospital’s teaching aspect.

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