Ashleigh and friends help make hospital food tasty

Teenage cancer survivor Ashleigh Kiernan played a major role in ensuring that the food at the new national children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital in Dublin will be worldclass.

Ashleigh, 13, from Lucan, Co Dublin, a member of the Youth Advisory Council, wants the food in the new hospital to be tastier.

“We want the patients to be able to eat Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food,” she says. “When I was in hospital the food was very plain and not very tasty.”

Ashleigh, who attends Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin for her yearly checks, is one of 21 children on the council who helped design the new children’s hospital.

“We have attended one of the three children’s hospitals in Dublin. We come from all around Ireland and, between us, have 120 years of hospital experience,” she says.

Ashleigh said they looked at the colours being used for the new hospital, the entertainment systems, garden designs, and the food.

“The single rooms are a big thing for us,” she says. “Most of us are teenagers, and we remember being in rooms with babies and they were crying all night while we were trying to sleep.”

Marian Carroll, volunteer chief executive of the Ronald McDonald House Charity Ireland, said it had permission to build a 53-bed family accommodation unit at the St James’s site. The first Irish Ronald McDonald House was opened in 2004 on the grounds of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital.

“Almost 3,000 families have been accommodated at the 20-bed Ronald McDonald House in Crumlin,” said Ms Carroll.” Most are from Munster. Over 500 have come from Cork.”

The Ronald McDonald House at St James’s will cost more than €12m, with the money raised by supporters, donors and families. Ms Carroll said their house in Crumlin costs €400,000 a year to run and they would have to make sure they had enough funds to realise their plans to open the new house in four to five years.

Louis Roden, a parent of two children with cystic fibrosis, has been fighting for a new national children’s hospital for 15 years.

“The new hospital will be built too late for my children, but I can’t’ give up now because it is for all the children of Ireland and it is vital it goes ahead,” said Mr Roden.

Connolly for Kids Hospital group spokesman Finn Breathnach said they still believed the St James’s campus was the wrong site.


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