The Rotary Club of Port Macquarie West has bought a specialised piece of medical equipment that will change the way children are cared for in the emergency department.
Port Macquarie Base Hospital now has a Smileyscope, one of the first hospitals in regional NSW to acquire one, thanks to the service club.
The $5000 virtual reality headset is worn by the paediatric patient during their medical procedure, such as a blood test or insertion of an intravenous needle.
"Many children are understandably fearful of needles. They can hurt," said Emergency Department Staff Specialist Dr Adam Skinner.
"The pain of an injection, however, can be tempered if the child is distracted and that's the magic of this very special headset.
"The virtual reality experience is choreographed to the real procedure, so, for example, during the antiseptic clean, waves can be seen and heard in the headset. During the needle insertion, fish gently nibble on the patient's arm.
"We tested the headset and it was apparent, right from the first patient, that this device would drastically improve a child's experience in ED."
Dr Skinner said the ED team was convinced of the need to keep the Smileyscope after the trial, but needed a benefactor to make it possible.
"That's where Port Macquarie West Rotary came in. We asked if they could help us and they came to the rescue.
"We are indebted to them. They have changed the ED experience for children for the better, and every member of our team is grateful.
"There's no doubt, parents will be too."
Rotary Club of Port Macquarie West President Heather Mayne said the club had a proud history of supporting worthy causes but funding the Smileyscope was a highpoint.
"Port Macquarie West Rotary has made many projects possible in our community, but this one is a standout," Mrs Mayne said.
"You simply can't put a price tag on the ability to reduce pain and anxiety for children, especially when they are frightened.
"Our club is extremely proud of the fact we've been able to bring this device to Port Macquarie, a first for regional NSW."
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