Ordeal chance to give back
Jo Triplow still gets emotional when she recalls her newborn son’s seven-night stay in hospital.
Jack, now a healthy 4-year-old, had what was ‘‘probably like a cold for any adult’’ but at nine weeks old he ended up spending five of those seven nights in Christchurch Hospital’s Paediatric High Dependency Unit.
It began with a week of doctors visits. Triplow was told Jack likely had rotavirus and they would be in for ‘‘a tough 10 days’’. But the diagnosis ‘‘didn’t feel right’’.
‘‘We went back on the Friday and they took one look at him and said ‘go straight to hospital’. We literally went from the doctor’s surgery up to the ward,’’ she said.
‘‘We were inside for a week...on the Wednesday I think I stepped outside for about 10 minutes but you just don’t leave your baby in those times.’’
Triplow still does not know what virus Jack had, but he eventually made a full recovery.
The key things she remembered from his stay in ward 22, a 20-bed ward for children up to age 15 , was how she was treated and the discomfort from staying by her child’s side for a week.
‘‘The nursing staff were just so incredible. I remember there was this one nurse . . . she said ‘is this the colour your baby normally is?’ Because he was grey,’’ Triplow said through tears.
It was a simple question with an obvious answer, but one which gave her hope at a time she felt helpless, she said.
‘‘Obviously babies aren’t grey. It was just the way they treated you, they gave you back control and they sort of show what you say has value. It was so special.’’
She wanted to show her appreciation and give back to the ward, to improve the experience not only for parents but staff as well. A visit to friend Renee Jones sparked an idea.
Jones worked for Pathway Trust, which owns commercial furniture company Alloyfold. The pair spent three years with the company to find chairs which had to meet a list of strict criteria, from anti-bacterial fabric to being load tested.
Another year of fundraising more than $22,000 under the umbrella of the Ma¯ ia Health Foundation meant the last of 12 chairs could be delivered to the ward last week.
Marshland School fundraised for one and EduKids Prestons picked up the tab for three of the chairs. Strangers donated money to a Givealittle page.
Tracy Jackson, the ward’s charge nurse manager, said the chairs meant they could better provide for families in need.
‘‘Staff recognise that families want to be with their children and they need to be comfortable.
‘‘When we nurse a child, we nurse a family, so for us to make sure that carers are really comfortable as well, and getting rest, is really important.’’
The chairs can recline completely horizontally, have a retractable footrest for breastfeeding mums and a side which drops for wheelchair access among their many features.
More information about the chairs and Triplow and Jones’ efforts can be found on the 12 Chairs for the Children’s Ward Facebook page.
"The nursing staff were just so incredible.'' Jo Triplow
Jo Triplow was motivated to help start a charity to supply comfy seats to Christchurch hospital after her son, Jack, spent seven nights there.