NZ Herald article

Douglas donation to Starship

Jeff Douglas (right) with medical training equipment and Starship staff. Herald photo.

A family of lifelike medical manikins that can cry and cough have pulled in the largest ever donation to Auckland’s Starship national children’s hospital – $9 million.

The gift from a family trust associated with New Zealand medicines firm Douglas Pharmaceuticals has been used to set up an endowment fund for training children’s health workers on the high-tech manikins.

The Starship Foundation said the donation from the Douglas Charitable Trust was the largest single gift in the hospital’s 27-year history.

The Starship Simulation Programme has six computer-controlled manikins or “sim children”, ranging from a premature baby through to a 14-year-old.

All kinds of realistic health emergencies and other medical scenarios can be mocked up with the high-tech dummies.

The manikins can cry, cough, suffer a seizure, show symptoms of a blocked airway, and go into respiratory or cardiac arrest.

They help to train children’s doctors, nurses and other staff in the teamwork needed in a medical crisis.

The health workers can practise numerous procedures, such as putting in breathing tubes and drips, giving fluid and medication, and inserting a chest drain.

The income from the endowment fund will enable the expansion of the current programme, for the benefit of sick or injured children throughout New Zealand. This will include simulation training at other district health boards, training for whānau, simulation of non-emergency scenarios, and research.

“Our teams are required to respond quickly and accurately,” said Dr Mike Shepherd, Starship’s director of medical and community services.

“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.”

The Douglas family have contributed to several Starship projects spanning 23 years, including the upgrading and extension of its operating theatres that was completed in 2016.

In 2010, Sir Graeme Douglas, who has since died, and his wife Lady Ngaire Douglas, donated $3 million for a magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

Jeff Douglas, the managing director of Douglas Pharmaceuticals and a representative of the charitable trust, said it was a pleasure to continue his family’s support for Starship by donating to the simulation programme.

“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.”

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