Building for the future

NOW that The Comet has established Building Blocks (BB) as its charity of the year, reporter Jo Jarvis visited the neonatal unit and children s wards at the Lister Hospital to find out exactly where people s donations will be going. Donations to Building

NOW that The Comet has established Building Blocks (BB) as its charity of the year, reporter Jo Jarvis visited the neonatal unit and children's wards at the Lister Hospital to find out exactly where people's donations will be going.

Donations to Building Blocks will be used for a variety of purposes.

The hospital is currently raising funds for specialised oxygen monitors in the children's accident and emergency department, to make part of Bluebell Ward more "teenager friendly" for adolescent patients, and for extra equipment in the special care baby unit. They also have ongoing requirements for equipment within maternity.

And this year BB aims to raise £75,000.

Around 2,800 babies are born in the Lister's maternity unit each year. But when a baby is born premature and needs specialist care, they are cared for in the combined special care baby/neo-natal intensive care unit providing care to babies over 26 weeks old. The unit which was expanded and renovated a year ago is now two thirds bigger in size and has enough room for 20 neonatal cots.

The unit includes an isolation room with eight incubators costing in the region of £30,000 each, a high dependency room with four cots and a ventilation room with eight cots. There is also a breast-feeding room and two family rooms with a kitchen, bathroom, sitting room and playroom.

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Del Brown, lead nurse for neonatal services, said: "It would be difficult without the family room because people need time out. "We also encourage brothers and sisters to come to the hospital so they stay as a family unit."

The Bluebell Ward cares for children up to the age of 16. The corridor which leads to the ward is welcoming and decorated with colourful displays to put the youngsters at ease.

Kath Evans, lead nurse for children's services, showed me around the facilities which include a playroom jam-packed with toys and an outdoor play area with rabbits and guinea pigs.

There is also a family unit with a living room, kitchen and wet room so that mums, dads and siblings can have time out in a homely environment.

Ms Evans said: "It's all about normalising the hospital experience.

"And we are so lucky in North and East Herts in terms of the facilities we have got."

The ward also has nurses that specialise in distraction play.

Play specialist Marilyn Godhew said: "Wherever there are children we try to provide a play environment

"Play is the first thing children know so we try to create a nice environment for them when they have invasive procedures

"Children often relate to toys, music and dolls so we have dolls that have tracheotomy tubes to show them what happens and Billy Bear has his bloods taken.

"We also go out to schools and promote our work and show the child there's nothing to be frightened of."

Community nurses are also based at the hospital and support youngsters at home who have a range of illnesses such as diabetes, cystic thrombosis and arthritis.

And in the future, Ms Evans said she hopes to secure more children's community nurses to deal with epilepsy, allergies and ADHD.

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