Colby George, 10, is upset that that the playroom at the hospital has been locked and the staff play educator was not replaced.
Colby George, 10, is upset that that the playroom at the hospital has been locked and the staff play educator was not replaced. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Toys behind locked doors

SICK kids have been locked out of Lismore Base Hospital children's ward play room since November and it looks set to be a permanent arrangement - not that medical staff were informed.

After inquiries from The Northern Star this week, the hospital's acting manager Dan Madden admitted the position of play therapist who supervised sick kids in the play room part time had been "discontinued".

Instead they would be relying on volunteers to staff the room, Mr Madden said.

Casino mum Kelly George, whose 10-year-old son Colby was born with a rare bowel condition, said it was cruel that the kids could see the toys and craft supplies through the locked glass door of the play room but could not access them.

"I'm gutted. It's all about the dollar. They've shut it and they haven't even informed anyone," Mrs George said.

"She (play therapist) made them feel like they weren't missing out on life.

"They get to meet the other kids on the ward. He's (Colby) made friends through the play room."

Lismore paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said the play therapist played an important role in children's recovery.

"We're wanting the ward to have a play therapist and educator because it allows the children to go up there and to get out of their rooms, to interact with each other and it boosts their morale enormously," Dr Ingall said.

Mr Madden said a volunteer visited the Children's Ward on a part-time basis to play with young patients in the play room.

"An investigation of whether other volunteers may be interested in playing with child patients in the craft area, which is currently not being utilised, will be undertaken," he said.

This week Dr Ingall said they had requested over a month ago that Northern NSW Health District CEO Chris Crawford advertise the play therapist position but had heard nothing since.



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