Letter published in Irish independent and Irish Examiner,7th November 2017
“Minister Harris recently announced that the new children’s hospital will be named Phoenix Children’s Hospital after the mythical bird, the Phoenix. Myth has it that as the end of its life approaches, the Phoenix builds a pyre, is consumed in its flames and then is reborn, arising from its own ashes.
Is this name not insensitive to the gut-wrenching grief of loss that parents experience when their child dies? Too often, I have seen that grief up close. In my first year alone as the Emergency Department consultant in Crumlin hospital, 28 children were “declared dead” in the department. Figures presented to An Bord Pleanála in 2011 regarding anticipated funeral traffic management at the proposed new hospital noted “approximately one hundred funerals” exiting Crumlin hospital mortuary each year. Recently I have been asked “Will you please put a memorial on the grounds of Our Lady’s (Crumlin Hospital) before it moves, to remember our children who died here”.
Life and death are real, not mythical. As at present, there will be parents in the new hospital who have to cope with a major life-limiting or terminal illness and the death of their child. Unlike the Phoenix, their child won’t be coming back. The pain of loss will never go away. Please don’t compound their suffering by such a careless choice of name. The name should be changed.
Yours etc., Dr Roisin Healy, Paediatric Emergency Medicine specialist (retired), Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12.