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Starship and Mercury: a wonderful long-term relationship

8 November 2017

Starship and Mercury: a wonderful long-term relationship

“Unprecedented” $10 million donated to the national children’s hospital through longstanding relationship

This year Starship, our national children’s hospital, celebrates 18 years of a ‘wonderful’ relationship with Mercury and its customers. This continued partnership has led to a total donation that Starship Chief Executive Brad Clark calls “unprecedented in corporate and customer giving”: over $10 million.

And for the past 13 years, steady donations from Mercury customers have given the hospital a reliable funding stream to help it get on with providing world class care for New Zealand children.

“Mercury’s customer regular giving programme is a shining example of Energy Made Wonderful, and the collective power of small gifts,” says Brad. “By giving regularly to Starship with their monthly bill, Mercury customers make a significant positive impact to many thousands of families from all over New Zealand cared for by our national children’s hospital.”

Since the arrangement began in 2004 over 60,000 Mercury customers have chosen to donate to Starship through their monthly electricity account, making this probably the longest running ‘crowd funding’ initiative in New Zealand. Mercury also contributes a direct donation and pays for administration costs, so every dollar a customer donates goes straight to helping the children and their families. Donations for the past year amounted to $1 million.

Stuart Lindsay from Auckland has been giving to Starship since 2004. “We dealt with Starship when one of our kids was a patient, and this is our opportunity to say thank you and give back to a fantastic bunch of people. Our son was 13 when he was a patient and he’s 26 now. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long!”

Fiona Anderson, also from Auckland, was another of the original Mercury customers who started giving to Starship in 2004. “I don’t have a personal connection to Starship but it was a good cause and a good idea,” she says. “You don’t notice it going out each month, but it’s added up. Over the years it has bought a lot of equipment for Starship.”

Over the past 18 years Mercury and its customers have helped Starship make the hospital a welcoming, healing space. There have been more than 850,000 patient visits to Starship Outpatients Department during that time, and the generosity of Mercury’s customers has now funded the refurbishment of this space. Customer donations also funded the refurbishment of Starship’s Kari Centre, a community-based mental health clinic used by around 2,500 young people and their families each year.

For children who need to stay in the hospital, donations have provided more than 200 fold-down beds for parents and caregivers who needed to stay overnight with their children - a simple addition that can make a huge difference to everyone involved at the end of a stressful day. The playroom on the General Paediatrics ward has been revamped, and Mercury customers funded a Snoezelen, sensory play trolley that travels to children unable to leave their beds, transforming their rooms with lighting, sounds and smells that encourage them to explore and enjoy.

Mercury saw the potential for virtual reality to transform the hospital experience for patients. They partnered with a company that uses specialist video equipment to bring a ‘little bit of home’ to the hospital ward. Six-year-old Eli, a long-term Starship patient who was more than 600km away from most of his family and friends, received a VR headset and an incredible 360° virtual reality experience which helped him feel closer to his home in the Wairarapa.

Mercury and its customers are also enabling Starship to bring world-class new technologies and expertise to New Zealand children. This includes a laser fetoscope, life-saving technology that helps twins still developing in their mother’s uterus who have twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. And in an Australasian-first, ‘gold standard’ eye scanning technology for babies and children arrived at Starship in 2016, thanks to donations by Mercury’s customers.

As New Zealand’s national children’s hospital, Starship has specialists who travel throughout the country to treat patients. About half the patients in intensive care are from outside greater Auckland. Working with every DHB in New Zealand, Starship delivers around 800 Outreach Clinics every year. Mercury’s customers have helped here too. They funded sophisticated mannequins that are used for training in response and care throughout the country.

“This level of support has enabled an enhanced quality of care at Starship with an environment more conducive to healing; helped us keep up with advances in medical technology, and supported innovation and growth in child health,” says Brad. “We can’t thank Mercury and their customers enough for what they have done, and continue to do.”

Ends

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