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Children and partents impressed with new hospital
The Royal Alex has attracted great interest from a design point of view but it is the patients and parents whose opinions matter most. Siobhan Ryan reports.
Holly Callinan has been ill off and on since she was four months old.
Medics are still struggling to find out what is causing the four-year-old's problems. The need for numerous tests, check-ups and treatments means Holly, from Brighton, is a familiar face to staff at the old Royal Alex and now at the new.
Her mother Christina, 33, is impressed with what she has seen so far. She said: "Quite simply, I love it. I love the simple things like the windows being close to the floor so little children can see out without you having to lift them up. I like the pull-away beds next to each child's bed so the parents can sleep next to them.
"In the old Royal Alex there were always arguments about who was going to be able to watch the television and what programmes should be shown but now each bed has its own.
"The accommodation for parents at the top is like walking into a hotel and the view from the balconies is great. Being able to see the sea will be very relaxing.
"Whenever Holly came in for an MRI scan or anaesthetic, we would find ourselves travelling between the Alex and the Royal Sussex County Hospital and that involved delays in waiting for an ambulance and making all the arrangements. Now Holly can just be wheeled through a corridor. It is terrific."
Holly has problems with her bowels, kidneys, stomach and bladder. It means she has to have a catheter fitted and take seven different types of medication.
Ms Callinan, and her partner Peter Moore, 49, are full-time carers for Holly. She said: "I do most of her nursing myself because she is happier at home. She is very strong and brave and puts up with so much. We are in and out of hospital so having such a great environment is important for us. Holly was thrilled when she saw what it was like and can't wait to go back."
Aimee Kenward-Pullan, from Denton, near Newhaven, was diagnosed with the debilitating condition ME last year.
The nine-year-old, who attends Rodmell Primary School in Lewes, has already visited the outpatient department. She said: "I really like it. The other Royal Alex could sometimes be hot and stuffy but this place has air conditioning and feels really cool.
"I like the pictures on the walls and the space. The old place had a small toy room and although the toys were great there wasn't a lot of space. This is much better."
Her mother Nicky Bulman, 32, a veterinary nurse, said: "Aimee was very ill for a while and very tired and lethargic. She had to stay at the old Alex for a week and did not like it at all. She will be happier here."
Sophie Burrows, 14, from Haywards Heath is preparing for an operation when she is 16 to reshape her jaw.
Sophie, who goes to Oathall School in Haywards Heath, said: "The place is great and so much better than the old hospital. There used to be a small room for the outpatients where you would wait to be called in. It was so small you would often have people hanging around outside it."
Deputy sister Elizabeth Brace said: "We were sad to leave the old Alex because it had so much character. Despite the building not being ideal, you still had a soft spot for it. But it had run its course and it was time to move on."
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