When two-year-old Alexander couldn’t stand up a few days after catching chickenpox, the out-of-hours doctor sent him straight to A&E in Watford where they found he had septic arthritis in his knee. He was rushed in an ambulance to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 15 miles away. There, he was kept in isolation for fourteen days and only left his room to have operations or tests.
His mum Gabby slept beside him in a pull-out bed every night while his dad stayed at home with his sister.
‘I only saw my daughter twice in two weeks,’ said Gabby.
‘Trying to get Alexander to sleep was very difficult. At the beginning he couldn’t eat, so I couldn’t eat in front of him. He couldn’t walk, so it was difficult to keep him entertained.’
Gabby saw a poster for MediCinema in the lifts. ‘It’s a genius idea. I never would have imagined there was an actual cinema inside the hospital.
The first time Alexander was allowed to leave his room, he went to MediCinema.
‘You instantly don’t feel like you’re in a hospital, even though there are people with drips, etc., you’re taken out of the hospital environment. The actual cinema is really lovely – bright and colourful.
‘For him to get out of the room for a decent amount of time was so good. Everybody he saw at hospital he was wary of because he thought he was going to be poked or prodded, but once he settled down he was really excited. He crawled for the first time in two weeks. It was really nice for him to see other children, too, and I was really excited myself!
‘For me, it was nice to chat to other parents and watch something other than CBeebies! It made me switch off.
‘You shouldn’t underestimate the difference even a little bit of help can make. Plus for parents of children – it’s hard work. You forget that yourself. You need to make sure you keep yourself sane. MediCinema does exactly that.
‘You can’t underestimate the difference it can make to a family – to be in the cinema but still safely in hospital. Thank you so much.’