William's on the mend
Waitakere Hospital's Rangitira paediatric ward is undergoing a $3.2 million upgrade that will offer more beds and services to sick children in West Auckland, Rodney and the North Shore. William Anau is one teen who received top care at the hospital.
A real outdoor kid is how Vili Anau describes his energetic nephew William.
So it was a shock when the rugby-mad 15-year-old became so ill he had to spend four months in hospital last year.
"We'd just come back from a trip to Tonga and he started complaining about aches and pains so we took him to the doctor," Mr Anau says.
It took several visits before a throat swab finally revealed the diagnosis.
William had rheumatic fever, which starts with a streptococcal infection in the throat and can result in permanent heart valve damage.
"I had sore joints. They were getting swollen and puffy, and I had really jerky movements," William saiys.
"I used to play rugby but I'm not allowed to now. You do a cross country and you feel your heart pump but for me just walking to the end of the road makes me really tired."
The keen piano and ukulele player was admitted to Waitakere Hospital's Rangitira Unit. It's a specialist paediatric ward for children aged up to 14..
"The first month was horrible. There was so much pain, it was depressing but then I started to feel better."
William lives with his uncle and extended family and was treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and bed rest.
He will need regular antibiotic injections every 28 days until he is 30 to protect him from another streptococcal infection and may yet need heart surgery.
There was plenty of care from staff during his stay along with great advice.
"They were really good. There was a play specialist who was really nice and brought different games and books and homework."
The Rangitira unit extension will include a new playroom, outdoor garden area and an increased number of beds. A special negative pressure isolation room for children with infectious diseases will be also be added.
Paediatrician Meia Schmidt-Uili is excited about the expansion, especially with winter coming.
"We will have a lot more single-bed rooms to help manage our infectious children and the very young and vulnerable," he says.
"We'll be able to admit children more quickly, reduce waiting times in the emergency department and avoid unnecessary transfers to Starship Hospital.
"We also won't have to shift patients around the ward or between wards so it will reduce stress for our families and staff members."
The hospital needs funds to stock the new unit with toys and equipment, including wheelchairs, thermometers, car seats, musical instruments, wooden blocks and Lego.
The WellKids 2012 campaign is a fundraising partnership between Fairfax Media, publisher of the Western Leader, and the Waitemata District Health Board.
TO DONATE By text: Text TXT KIDS to 2449 to donate $3. Text as often as you like until service ends on June 21. By cheque: Payable to Three Harbours Health Foundation with reference "Rangitira" on the back. Send to Private Bag 93-503, Takapuna, Auckland, Attn: Accounts Receivable. Online: To account number 03-0181-0188806-000 and include the word "Rangitira" in the reference field. By cash: Cash payments can be made at the Waitakere or North Shore hospital cashiers' offices from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Eftpos is not available.