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Starship Hospital gets $6m rebuild

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 14:27 27/07/2013

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Sleeping on the floor is a thing of the past for parents at Starship Hospital's refurbished wards.

This weekend the national children’s hospital welcomes patients back into the renovated neurology and medical specialities wards.

The new level six facilities boast extra beds and space for families as well as a snazzy new look. The eight month, $6 million rebuild will benefit more than 2200 patients each year. More than $5m was provided by Starship Foundation donors.

Families of patients say the changes are an improvement to the wards of old.

Former neurology patient Jamie Trower, 19, attended the reopening of the ward he received life-saving treatment in a decade ago. 

His skull, cracked from ear to ear in a skiing accident, had to be stapled back together. He spent six weeks recovering in level six before moving onto longer rehabilitation at the Wilson Centre in Takapuna.

He had to relearn to eat, speak and walk and attended school with the help of a teacher aide.

He's come a long way - he’s studying English and drama at the University of Auckland and is in a loving relationship with his girlfriend Cydney.

He’s even been skiing again with his grandad Colin who was there when the accident happened.

"He cried," Trower said.

"I hadn’t forgotten how to ski, it wasn’t scary,"

Trower still has a tremor down his right side and has memory of his life pre-accident or initial treatment.

His family recalls sleeping on mattresses on the floor at Trower’s bedside at Starship, and equipment being stored in the corridors due to a lack of space.

Colin Gray spent night after night massaging his grandson's spasming arms and singing Elvis Presley to him as he lay in a coma.

"I really never left his side at night. My wife took over in the morning and in the afternoon his mum came in.

"It was a 24/7 thing for the seven weeks he was in hospital."

Most rooms didn’t have beds for family members to sleep on, with some even squashing into corners under sinks to find space.

But all that has changed in level six. There are 37 single rooms, compared with the old 16. There are improved bathroom facilities, more ensuites, extra space for families and fold-down beds for parents.

Demands for providing paediatric healthcare have changed over the 21 years since Starship was built, director of child health Dr Richard Aickin said.

As well as improving facilities for staff, the environment for parents to support their children has been the focus, he said. "It is an important part of the treatment process."

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