Diabetic's mum upset at treatment

Last updated 05:00 21/08/2012
Helen Flynn and daughter Ryleigh
NEEDING HELP: Helen Flynn, who is upset about the way Chipmunks Playland and Cafe staff treated daughter Ryleigh, 4, when she was having a Type 1 diabetic severe hypoglycaemic episode, but the owners say it was all a misunderstanding.

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The mother of a diabetic preschooler who had a life-threatening episode at a children's playland in Hamilton says she is horrified by the treatment she received from staff.

But the owners say it was a misunderstanding, and they worked hard to ensure the safety of the hundreds of children who visit their facility.

Helen Flynn, from Te Awamutu, was at Chipmunks Playland and Cafe in Pukete on Sunday when her daughter Ryleigh, 4, started having a Type 1 diabetic severe hypoglycaemic episode at the top of a bouncy slide.

Mrs Flynn said when a diabetic had an episode, they were not getting the sugar they needed to their brain, and so their body stopped functioning properly.

Mrs Flynn said after climbing up and carrying her daughter back down the ladder, a male staff member - who turned out to be owner Mark Owen - came over and told her adults were not allowed on the slide.

"I explained that [Ryleigh] had diabetes, and that she needed help getting down, but he didn't want to know.

"He said ‘I don't care, you're not to go on the slide'."

However Mr Owen said he did not realise anything was wrong with Ryleigh as "animated" Mrs Flynn was not communicating in a "legible state".

He said he had asked Mrs Flynn not to go on another slide with her children earlier, so he was simply re-enforcing the rule that was in place to protect all children at the facility.

Mrs Flynn's upset was compounded when Mr Owen's wife Kylie told her off for feeding Ryleigh jellybeans, the best "medicine" for correcting her blood-sugar level in a hurry.

But Mr Owen said his staff were always accommodating when they were aware of medical or dietary conditions, and his wife was complying with food hygiene laws.

He suggested staff be advised of any child's medical condition or special dietary need on their arrival at Chipmunks.

Mrs Flynn spoke with Mrs Owen yesterday, who apologised and said she would make staff more aware of medical conditions. But Mrs Flynn hoped by speaking out more people would become aware of conditions such as Type 1 diabetes and epilepsy.

Hayden Vink, president of Diabetes Youth New Zealand, sympathised with the emotional situation the Flynns were in, but said a lack of awareness around life-threatening illnesses was not uncommon.

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- Waikato Times

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