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New Zealand children to benefit from $9 million gift to Starship


When your role is saving children’s lives, it is critical that you have the best training; including training that is as close to real life as possible. An extraordinary gift from the Douglas Charitable Trust has enabled just that, accelerating the future of simulation training for paediatric experts at Starship, our national children’s hospital and around New Zealand.

Starship Child Health and the Starship Foundation today celebrated a $9 million donation from the Douglas family. It is the largest single gift in the national children’s hospital’s 27-year history.

An endowment fund has been established to transform Starship’s Simulation Programme (SSP), which will be renamed Douglas Starship Simulation Programme in honour of the gift and the wonderful generosity of the Douglas family to Starship.

SSP was established in 2010 to harness the potential of simulation to improve care and outcomes for children. It uses high fidelity, computer driven ‘manikins’ to educate and train both individuals and clinical teams and improve clinical systems and practice. Starship currently has six manikins or sim children, ranging from a premature baby through to a 14-year-old.

The Starship Simulation Programme provides realistic recreations of any imaginable medical emergency or important situation. The manikins can cry, cough, have a seizure, show symptoms of a blocked airway, and go into respiratory or cardiac arrest. Vital signs can be altered in real time, according to the scope of the session and the treatment provided by staff.

It helps train paediatric doctors, nurses and other staff, particularly around the complex teamwork required in a medical crisis. Clinical teams can practise a wide range of procedures for example putting in breathing tubes and drips, giving fluid and medication, and putting in a chest drain.

Dr Mike Shepherd, Director of Medical and Community at Starship Child Health, is a paediatric emergency specialist and a global expert on simulation training. He says; “Our teams are required to respond quickly and accurately. Simulation training teaches us not only how we might respond to a medical emergency to provide the best possible outcome for these children, but helps to improve patient safety and the way we work together.

“The crying, the fighting for breath, the beeping machines, all adds to the realism. It makes a difference; it makes us better at saving children’s lives and delivering excellent clinical care to children and whānau.” he adds.

The annual contribution from the endowment fund will enable the current programme to grow and develop all for the benefit of children throughout New Zealand. This will include paediatric simulation training in other DHBs around New Zealand, simulation based training for whānau, simulation of complex non-emergency activity and lead simulation research and outcome development.

The Douglas family are long-time supporters of Starship Children’s Hospital, with a history of giving that spans 23 years. In 2010 Sir Graham and Lady Ngaire Douglas donated $3 million to buy a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. This meant children requiring an MRI scan could do so within the comfortable and child-friendly surrounds of Starship, without the requirement for transport under sedation into the adult services facility.

More recently the family has supported several further projects including the renovation and extension of Starship’s operating theatres, completed in 2016.

Douglas Pharmaceuticals Managing Director, Jeff Douglas, says there is long-standing admiration within the Douglas family for the work done by the teams at Starship. “My parents have been long- time supporters; my late father in particular would have fully endorsed and been delighted to financially back this remarkable advance in technology.”

“It is a great pleasure to continue our support by donating to the simulation programme. These ‘manikins’ offer paediatric teams the opportunity for the kind of specialist training that will improve the health care of sick children, and the outcomes for them. It is just a privilege to be involved.”

Starship Foundation Chief Executive, Aisha Daji Punga, says; “The Douglas family are true philanthropists, humble and down to earth. They have provided an unprecedented legacy to Starship. We can’t thank them enough for this truly exceptional gift and their outstanding contribution to the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s children.”

The Starship Foundation is focused on accelerating better health and brighter futures for our children. By 2023 it aims to raise $20m per year to support the national children’s hospital.

About the Starship Foundation:

Starship is New Zealand’s national children’s hospital, firmly focused on accelerating world class healthcare for all New Zealand children. There are nearly 130,000 patient visits to Starship Child Health each year including around 1000 outreach clinics where Starship clinicians offer specialist consultation and support to their peers all around New Zealand.

Since 1992 the Starship Foundation has invested more than $135 million into Starship Child Health, making areal difference to New Zealand children every day.  Right now we have a new sense of urgency with anambitious target to generate $20 million a year for Starship by 2023.

We will continue investing in Starship’s National Air Ambulance Service, bringing children from all over New Zealand to Starship for life-saving care, latest advances in new technology and medical equipment, boosted family support and specialist staff training. In line with global best practice we are increasing our efforts inresearch and innovation targeting an additional $5 million per annum.

Our children. Better health. Brighter futures.
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