Backlash at decision against Ronald McDonald house in new Dunedin Hospital

  • 04/11/2017
Ljubljana, Slovenia - September 3, 2011: Close-up of McDonalds outdoor sign with  typical rounded yellow M letter against cloudless blue sky. Sign is positioned on the left side of image.
Photo credit: Getty

Otago regional councillor Michael Laws has come out hitting against public health officials who don't want a Ronald McDonald House in the new Dunedin Hospital because of the association with fast-food.

"It's fine for public health people on six-figure salaries to take the moral high ground, but they will never live the emotional roller-coaster that is being the parent of a very sick kid, and a long way from family and friends," Mr Laws said.

Earlier Public Health Association Otago-Southland branch chairwoman Mary-Ann McKibben said Southern DHB should follow Counties Manukau and avoid links with the fast-food giant.

On the advice of public health staff, Auckland health bosses ended talks about having a Ronald McDonald House at Middlemore Hospital.

Mr Laws said the public health advisers were promoting zealotry, not public health.

The advice to reject a Ronald McDonald House, not just for Dunedin but for the whole Otago region, was both wrong and inhumane, he said.

Mr Laws said his whole family was affected when in 2008 his then three-year-old daughter Lucy was diagnosed with cancer and associated illnesses.

"Lucy was whisked away to Auckland and knowing that we had free accommodation, a safe haven and a supportive network of caring strangers was just critical.

"The facility is even more important for single income or lower income families, and especially for those not resident in Dunedin."

There was also no discernible McDonald's branding at Ronald McDonald House, he said.

The Otago Daily Times reports Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan had written to Southern DHB commissioners urging them to "listen to the voices" of those in their three rural Otago districts, who the Mayors said would be most affected by the "movement against Ronald McDonald House".