The problem with cancer is that it affects your immunity and your ability to fight infections and all these kids can get chickenpox, measles, mumps and all these other horrible diseases again, and again, and again. And even something minor like a cold or maybe flu could become potentially life-threatening for these kids. It was in 2007 when Bianca had a viral infection and spent 34 days in hospital, in isolation on oxygen most of that time. It was during that time that she had a broncospasm that required immediate attention from the medical staff.
Now I know that shortly before we left for Auckland, they made some attempts to create some seperation between the Oncology side and the general children's ward. But even then it was fairly limited with the available space. In the Wellington Children's hospital they have two wards - Ward 19 (which is mostly for babies and then a serious infection isolation unit with around 6 rooms for kids who might have chickenpox, tummy bugs and so on) and then Ward 18 which is for the older kids up to 15 or something and it is also this ward where they have the Oncology side. Fair enough they created a day stay room with 4 beds, a seperate treatment room, but at that point it still had shared toilets (but they may have changed that now already) and then 2 - 4 (I can't remember exactly how many) isolation rooms dedicated to the oncology kids. But either way, it was still very limited in space, especially now that they have started bringing back many of the patients they sent away when our oncologists left.
It was all good that they wanted to make some of these changes, but the way it was when we were still there, we still had regular visitors and potentially very sick general patients walking past these dedicated oncology rooms, so many of us felt the risk was still there.
So fair enough they have probably since then made quite a bit of changes to these dedicated areas within the general children's ward and it might very well be more isolated from the general patients - I don't know. We haven't been back and I'm really not sure at this point.
I guess I was just really disappointed when I saw a news article today that they have now turned around again and decided to keep the Children's hospital where it is (read article here). Somehow it seems to be the way it is, make promises, get people off their back, just to turn around and go back to how things were. Okay fair enough their reasons are valid - they say it would be very cramped in the Grace Neil block - although when I was there in that building when Caitlyn was born, certainly the room I was initially in was really spacious, I mean it was probably twice the size of any of the rooms Bianca ever stayed in, and the room I was in afterwards, although much smaller, I seem to remember it was no smaller than the usual isolation rooms they used to put Bianca in at Wellington hospital. And I guess I have to wonder when they planned the brand new building, why they never allocated space or included the Children's hospital or Paediatric Oncology in their design and eventual building process. And certainly I heard rumours that they spent thousands of dollars on landscaping, when in my mind, that money could have been spent on some essential services at the hospital, when you're sick you don't exactly care what the outside looks like (in my opinion anyway).
And all I know is that I am really really happy we are here in Auckland, with our dedicated oncology unit where they are currently actively making improvements. And I think our decision was very good for us! After spending 113 days in hospital with various infections, we really want to minimise the risks to Bianca and limit her exposure to other serious illnesses.