Come, let us fund a Whanau Room at Auckland City Hospital

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For just $20,000, care and comfort can be assured to many

Jennifer Porter

Four months after receiving the lung transplant that saved his life, 50-year-old Paul Faalogo was back home in Northland with Partner Tanya, enjoying precious time with family.

A year earlier, after battling life-long asthma and countless chest infections, Paul was recommended for a lung transplant.

Auckland City Hospital is the only place in New Zealand that delivers heart and lung transplants, and within two months on the transplant list, Paul was in the operating theatre.

After the operation, he spent seven weeks in the Hospital’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), receiving round-the-clock specialist care.

A place for family

Paul remembers very little of his time in the CVICU but Tanya, who was at Paul’s side every step of the way, vividly remembers the many ups and downs they faced during that time. She also remembers the importance of the CVICU’s Whānau Room as a place for the family to gather.

“Paul had four more operations after his transplant, and there were times we thought he might not pull through, but he kept hanging on,” Tanya said.

“It was an incredibly stressful time, and our family spent many long days nervously waiting in the Whānau Room, hoping Paul would get better.”

Welcoming and Comfortable

Auckland City Hospital’s Whānau Rooms offer family and friends space away from the bedside, but within the Ward, where they can spend time while supporting loved ones in hospital. The CVICU’s Whānau Room is often full of families who are supporting patients as they fight for their lives.

Auckland Health Foundation (AHF) Chief Executive Gwen Green said that Whānau Rooms should be welcoming, comfortable and provide a much-needed distraction.

“These Rooms have such significance; they are a place for families to escape, break down if they need to, and try to cope in what can be very challenging times. Currently, most Whānau Rooms throughout the Hospital are uninviting and in need of Trauma Life Support Centre (TLC). Feedback is that the Rooms are too sterile, clinical, claustrophobic and unwelcoming,” she said.

Funding for refurbishment

Ms Green said that AHF is working with Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) to refurbish 43 Whānau Rooms, following much planning and research into what families want and need in the Rooms.

“But the refurbishments can only happen through people donating to our Whānau Rooms Rejuvenation Project. Thanks to our donors’ generosity, seven Rooms are funded, but there are many more to go, including in the CVICU,” she said.

Tanya said, “Having our family around was so important to Paul’s recovery. It was great that everyone felt welcome to visit him, and also great they could relax in the Whānau Room when they were not at Paul’s bedside, which was difficult when he was so sick.”

With six children, five grandchildren and a large extended family, Paul was never short of visitors, some of whom travelled to the hospital every day to sit with Paul, hold his hand and encourage him.

Home away from Home

“We felt like permanent residents in the Hospital, and we bonded with other families going through similar experiences,” Tanya said.

“Having a space to sit and reflect or chat to friends, while still being close to Paul in case something happened, was so important for our family.”

While Tanya recalls the Whānau Room fondly, she thinks of the families there now, going through such challenging times.

“The more welcoming and comforting these spaces can be, the better for everyone. The Rooms become like a ‘home away from home,’ so it would be amazing for families in the future to have a better space to process what they’re going through and support each other.”

Calling our Readers

Sameer Handa is a Trustee on the Auckland Health Foundation Board.

He said, “We are inviting Indian Newslink readers to come together to fully fund a Whānau Room. The cost of refurbishing a small Room, like that in the CVICU, is $20,000. If everyone gives whatever they can afford, we believe that we can reach that target, and give comfort to those spending valuable time with loved ones in Hospital.

“Together, we can improve the experience for families like Paul’s and families like ours, by creating a welcoming haven during worrying times. If Indian Newslink readers unite to fully fund one special refurbishment, their generosity will be acknowledged within the hospital for grateful patients and families to see,” Mr Handa said.

You can give comfort when it is needed most.  Please donate today, giving your bit towards our $20,000 target, and make this comfort a reality:

Go to, select for your donation to support ‘Whānau Rooms Rejuvenation Project’ and type Indian Newslink in the comment section; Via online banking to payee 02-0108-0440606-000, with Indian Newslink as reference; Via post to Auckland Health foundation, Private Bag 92024, Auckland 1142 (Indian Newslink); Call (09) 3076046 and quote Indian Newslink; Or visit us on Level 15 of the Support Building at Auckland City Hospital to make a lasting difference for countless families.

Jennifer Porter is Senior Communications & Media Advisor at Auckland Health Foundation. Indian Newslink is honoured to be associated with this noble project. Your contribution will be helpful.


Photo Caption:

  1. Paul Faalogo with his Partner Tanya in a Whanau Room at the Auckland Hospital (Picture Supplied)
  2. Auckland Health Foundation CEO Gwen Green (Picture from AHF Website)
  3. Auckland Health Foundation Board Trustee Sameer Handa (Picture from AHF Website)

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