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Closing playroom 'betrayed' kids

Beth Trevan of Lismore was a co-ordinator of Lismore Base Hospital Children’s Ward Appeal in 1979.
Beth Trevan of Lismore was a co-ordinator of Lismore Base Hospital Children’s Ward Appeal in 1979. Cathy Adams

THE volunteer who in 1975 established Lismore Base Hospital's children's ward playroom says the facility's administrators are a "disgrace" who have "betrayed" sick children and the community.

Beth Trevan said the hospital's decision to discontinue the play therapist position, effectively shutting down the playroom, showed a complete lack of understanding of the trauma suffered by kids in hospital.

"It's just really sad that they're prepared to fund all the counselling services for adults but they don't understand that a play therapist is just as important to children," said Mrs Trevan, who in 2009 was recognised in the Queens Birthday Honours List for services to children's wellbeing.

"(closing the playroom) will be a permanent reminder that the administration have no understanding of the emotional needs of children in hospital."

In the mid-1970s Mrs Trevan started a volunteer play program at the hospital and in 1979 co-ordinated a campaign, supported by The Northern Star, to raise money towards the construction of a new children's ward.

More than $500,000 was eventually raised by the community.

The 72-year-old said as a direct result of the campaign, the health service at the time allocated a permanent, full-time play therapist position in 1983, as "a non-negotiable condition" of allocating the community funds to the construction of the new state-of-the-art children's ward.

Mrs Trevan said the failure of the hospital's administration to honour this promise was a "disgrace" that had the potential to undermine future community fundraising efforts.

Last week the acting manager of the hospital Dan Madden told The Northern Star that they would investigate whether more volunteers would be interested in staffing the play room.

But hospital insiders said this was unlikely as the hospital's volunteer co-ordinator position had been vacant for around six years.

Topics:  childrens ward, lismore base hospital, playroom


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