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Margi's Q&A with Kidz First!

Our CEO Margi Mellsop sat with Kidz First and here's what she had to say about her experience:

Whilst preparing for our Jammies in June: Warm Up Appeal, I had the privilege of getting to know the team at Kidz First. The commitment and compassion given to every single child needing their expertise is beyond anything I have ever seen before, and I can see why Kidz First is held in such high esteem, not just in our own community, but around the world.

In these discussions, there was something they did last year that really exemplifies what makes Kidz First so special. When Delta hit South Auckland hard, the team created a ward for children whose parents were in hospital or ICU with Covid and had nurses and care partners look after them while their parents were unable to. As Dr Rebecca Alekzander said, “obviously their parents were not able to look after them while they were in hospital, the kids were scared – it was just what we decided to do”. How amazing!

Everyone I spoke with had such deep appreciation for the support of the Middlemore Foundation and wanted me to convey how aware they are of the essential role you play in making Kidz First the very special place it is.

Dr Richard Mastsas the Clinical Director of Kidz First especially wanted me to share their joy in being able to give each child a new pair of warm pyjamas as they leave to go home, “The smiling faces of so many children in our clinic when they walk off with their jammies is something very dear to me and my team – this simple gesture from your donors makes such a huge difference”.

Q&A with Dr Rebecca Alekzander

I was very lucky to grab a coffee with paediatric specialist Dr Rebecca Alekzander as she and the team were gearing up for winter and asked a few questions.

Q: On average, how many kids are admitted over a normal winter? What are the common causes behind admissions?

A: We are certainly the busiest Kids ED in Auckland. On average over winter, we often see 100 - 120 kids come through each day, most with some form of respiratory illness. Last year was really challenging with thousands of children coming to Kids First with RSV, a common cold-like virus that can be fatal to young children.

Q: Do you think this winter will be more challenging than in previous years?

A: Yes, we're picking this winter will be very challenging. We anticipate there will be another RSV surge and we're also worried about the flu and measles. we anticipate there will also be an omicron outbreak at some stage and when you add the rising cost of living, we could be looking at a perfect storm – we are holding our breath!

Q: What makes winter harder for whaanau living in our community and what might see less kids admitted over this time?

A: “There are statistics from 2018 that showed that just under 3000 people died from respiratory diseases that year in New Zealand, making it the third largest cause of death. This relates to people living in cold, damp houses with limited warmth causing them to fall ill. Many of our children and families living within the Counties Manukau community are living in these conditions. The work that is happening to ensure homes are healthy and warm is a great start, but as we all know, there are so many houses out there not meeting these legal requirements, and until they do, children will continue to be admitted to our Clinic with respiratory diseases.’

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to our supporters?

A: I am very aware of your incredible support of our work through the Middlemore Foundation. Because of you, visiting families can stay beside their children all through their stay with us. We have been able to purchase state of the art equipment that our government funded budgets were not able to stretch to and give kids some great Christmas gifts and of course, a wonderful new pair of pyjamas to take back home. Widening this appeal to make sure that home is as warm as it could be, will be wonderful!

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