Cooper Sinclair has written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the funding beds in the pediatric intensive care unit suite in Starship. Image / Dean Purcell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has responded to an 11-year-old boy’s message urging more government support for Auckland Children’s Hospital, Starship.
But the response left the good boy with more questions than answers, while his mother described the prime minister’s response as “disappointing.”
Cooper Sinclair wrote to the Prime Minister with his budget advice after his ill cousin Max was five times late due to the lack of beds in the Intensive Pediatric Ward (PICU) in Starship.
A student at Takapuna Normal Middle School demanded Ardern to cut the planned $ 250 million for a new six-story parliamentary building and to allocate more cash to fund 10 badly needed beds in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Cooper said he was really happy to receive a response, but said Ardern avoided answering the question.
“It’s great that she wrote to me and it’s a nice letter but it doesn’t really answer my question about why the government is not able to provide more money to Starship,” he said.
“She said she supports Starship but has not said if she will provide additional money to finish the project.”
Cooper’s mother, Olivia Blaikcock, said Ardern had sidestepped the question like a “model politician.”
“It’s a little disappointing. Cooper was confused and asked me, ‘Does she support the Starship or not?'”
In the letter, Ardern told Cooper that she appreciated his time spent writing and praised him for his “well-written letter.”
Max Coleman after five times delayed open heart surgery. The attached photo
“I am sorry to hear that your cousin Max was doing well. I know how anxious you and your family are about him, but I am happy to hear that his operation was successful and he has returned home in Mithfen with honor and his mother and father.”
Ardern explained that the new parliamentary building is essential for safety and said it has the support of all politicians – even the opposition.
“It is important to me that in the event of an earthquake, all of the employees who work here are safe,” she explained.
“Since we are renting the existing building, it would be beneficial to build a new building either at a neutral or cheaper cost over a period of 30 years.
“So, in a sense, it’s nothing more than the rent we’re paying for the existing building with earthquake problems.”
Ardern ended her best wishes for Cooper, Max and their families and said that she will continue to support the Starship and “invest in a host of health services across the country.”
Cooper’s appeal to the family in the Starship carried the same message as an open letter the mother wrote to New Zealanders.
Oakland mom Carly Roberton wrote a touching letter to New Zealanders asking for help buying the Starship family after seeing the impact of the shortage first-hand.
Robton’s 2-year-old son Theo has been living in the Starship since he became seriously ill this year.
The mother experienced delayed surgeries and babies put in a dormitory while it is better for them to be in intensive care.
Max Coleman and his cousin Cooper Sinclair, who wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asking her to pay more of the family into Starship. The attached photo
PICU currently has 22 beds available for New Zealand’s 1.25 million children under the age of 16.
The government has allocated $ 25 million of the $ 40 million needed for the hospital expansion project. Starship has another $ 8 million available so another $ 7 million is needed.
Starship’s director of surgery and intensive care services, Dr John Pica, said the expansion is critical.
“We get full roughly every two or three days, and we can manage that at the moment, but we need to do something within the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.
About 1,200 children are admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit each year.
“We can do a lot more than that, and the things we can do now mean that children survive, who may not be,” Becca said.
Donations can be made online at www.starshipicu.org.nz or by contacting the Starship Foundation directly.
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