Play therapist cut back a callous game
She said a promise was made to the community in 1979 that there would be a full-time play therapist at the children's ward 'despite any financial difficulties'. But now that position has been cut back to 20 hours a week, a move Mrs Trevan said was unfair on sick children.
“Most parents work so if a child has to go to hospital, they really need the play therapist,” Mrs Trevan said.
“But it's not just playing, it is about understanding the emotional needs of kids and bringing a sense of normality to a different environment.”
Mrs Trevan started a volunteer play program at the hospital in the early 1970s, and in 1979 co-ordinated a campaign, supported by The Northern Star, to raise money towards the construction of a new children's ward.
She said as a direct result of the campaign, the health service at the time allocated a permanent, full-time play therapist position in 1983, 'a non-negotiable condition of allocating the community funds to the construction of the new state-of-the-art children's ward, opened in 1984'.
“It's a great shock to discover that after 30 years of operating, the callous administration of Lismore Base Hospital has now struck at the most vulnerable in their care,” Mrs Trevan said.
However, the North Coast Area Health Service defended its actions, saying it was not considered an essential part of paediatric care.
A spokesperson said the departure of the play group leader had provided an opportunity to review the way the group functioned.
“There is generally not a high demand,” he said.
“It was decided a better allocation of time was for the remaining playgroup organiser's time to be increased to 20 hours a week, spread over five mornings.”