Birmingham Children’s Hospital starts work on a new £1million facility

via April for Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Work begins on Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Hundreds of parents and families who receive life-changing or difficult news at Birmingham Children’s Hospital will now benefit from a brand new home-from-home sanctuary being built within the hospital’s garden.

The first of its kind in the UK and funded entirely by charitable donations, the new purpose-built £1million support centre, called Magnolia House, will provide a safe-haven for parents and families at their time of need.

Due for completion later this year, the non-clinical, one-storey building will be located within ‘Matron’s Garden’, which is in a central part of the hospital’s site.

Left to Right - Liz McKenzie, Wesleyan's Chief Operating Officer, with Gayle Routledge and Birmingham Children's Hospital's Palliative Care Lead, Nicki Fitzmaurice 2
Left to Right – Liz McKenzie, Wesleyan’s Chief Operating Officer, with Gayle Routledge and Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s Palliative Care Lead, Nicki Fitzmaurice

Named because of the magnolia trees found in the hospital’s garden, Magnolia House will set the benchmark for palliative care across the UK, providing care for children and families living with terminal illnesses or those who have complex diagnoses and need help to understand and control their child’s symptoms.

The thoughtfully designed Magnolia House will boast three pastel-coloured private counselling rooms, a calming lounge area, a siblings play area and a private peaceful garden where families can sit and reflect. The roof of the building will be covered with grass and embedded with twinkle lights to provide in-patients overlooking Magnolia House a scenic and magical view from the windows of the hospital.

Approximately 100 life-changing conversations take place with families and patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital every year. At present these discussions often happen in offices, empty cubicles or even playrooms, with parents often moved back out onto the ward before they have properly had the time to digest what they are being told.

Magnolia House will instead offer a space where families can spend as long as they need together, before they feel ready to face the world again.

Speaking of how Magnolia House would have benefited her family when her son Lewis passed away with a rare form of cancer, Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, Gayle Routledge, from Stafford, said: “Lewis was first admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in June 2008 when he was just eight months old. For the next two years, the hospital became our second home until he died in July 2010. I still remember every detail of where we were when we were told the news and for us that was a cramped and impersonal room with hardly enough space for us all to sit down.

Left to Right - mum Gayle Routledge and Birmingham Children's Hospital's Palliative Care Lead Nicki Fitzmaurice
Left to Right – mum Gayle Routledge and Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s Palliative Care Lead Nicki Fitzmaurice

“It would have made such a huge difference to our family to have a comfortable space to go to away from the ward where we could feel safe and that was completely separate from the hospital itself – somewhere that was more like a home-from-home.”

Nicki Fitzmaurice, Palliative Care Lead at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “The hospital, and the families who come to us, have wanted a space like Magnolia House for such a long time and we are proud, today, to be able to start building this exciting new facility as it will improve the lives of hundreds of families that are delivered devastating news at our hospital every year.”

Monies to build Magnolia House have been raised with the help of the hospital’s near-neighbour Wesleyan, which has committed to raise £750,000 of the £1million total.

The specialist financial mutual is well on its way to reaching its target by the end of this year, with many fantastic fundraising activities planned, including sales of its children’s book, ‘The Unstoppable Maggie McGee’. A book which has been written and published especially for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, with every penny of the cover price going to the charity.

The final £250,000 has already been achieved through public donations, including the charity’s annual summer fundraiser Big Bandage.

Liz McKenzie, Wesleyan’s Chief Operating Officer and chair of its Charity Advisory Committee, said: “From the moment we heard about the concept behind Magnolia House we knew it was a project we wanted to support because it will mean so much to families at the hospital. Our staff, customers, suppliers, business contacts and the wider community have been incredibly generous in supporting our fundraising activity, and now the building work has begun it gives us another incentive to reach our target.”

Elinor Eustace, Deputy Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, added: “Magnolia House is a much-needed peaceful haven that will give our families time and space to come to terms with difficult news. We are delighted to have had the support of Wesleyan, our largest corporate supporter, to allow us to reach this important milestone and look forward to working with them once more to reach their final £750,000 target.”

This first spade in the ground for Magnolia House comes hot on the heels of the children’s hospital also receiving the green light from planners to start work on a new £37.5million clinical block on Whittall Street.

To purchase The Unstoppable Maggie McGee visit bch.org.uk/maggie or for more information on Magnolia House visit bch.org.uk/magnolia.

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