Starship's 'living angel' Julie Smith recognised for 20 years of service with well deserved trip to Commonwealth Games

Starship’s "true living angel" Julie Smith has been recognised for her incredible 20 years work in the hospital's emergency department with a trip to the Gold Coast to watch the Commonwealth Games.

Ms Smith was nominated by friends, colleagues and patient's families for Barfoot and Thompson's Starship Champion, and was chosen out of 153 other nominees.

"I was just so blown away, honestly anyone that works for Starship they give their heart and soul, we're not there for the money clearly," Ms Smith told 1 NEWS.

"We just love what we do, we love helping not just the children, but the families cope with what's going on."

She's been described as a strong family advocate, and incredible teacher, amazing with children, dedicated, loyal, hardworking and warm.

The mum of four knew she wanted to work with kids after a paediatric placement on a children's ward in Northland.

When she moved back to Auckland working for Starship was a no brainer.

"The team that I work with is just amazing. Starship is such an awesome place. There's such an aura around it, people are drawn to it, they trust us there, and they just know that they're in safe hands once they walk in the door."

But for Ms Smith, it was when her best friend Susan's five-year-old daughter suffered from a heart infection, that the importance of her work truly sunk in.

"Susan and I totally saw Starship from the other side. How awesome Starship Foundation is looking after families in crisis mode," she said.

It was that terrifying experience that made Susan want to nominate Julie for the award.

"I don't think I would have survived without her to be fair, and I don't think Emily would have. She was the one pushing for them to keep looking and figure out what was wrong with her."

"Julie was my advocate. Because I was in such a high status stress, my daughter just went to school, fell asleep and didn’t wake up and they didn’t know what was wrong with her.

"So Julie came to the hospital and was liaising with the doctors, and fighting for the care that she needed and then got transferred to Starship. Julie was just there for me the whole time."

Now over in the Gold Coast both feel as though they've come full circle.

Susan Domett and Julie Smith.
Susan Domett and Julie Smith. Source: 1 NEWS

"We just talked about it last year that we wanted to come to these games."

While here they're looking forward to the watching the athletics and netball finals.

"We're huge Silver Ferns fans – we have the faith."



Man who beat pensioner to death soon after release from mental health unit jailed at least 13 years

A man who stomped a pensioner to death shortly after being discharged from Auckland City Hospital's mental health unit has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years.

Gabriel Yad-Elohim appeared at the High Court in Auckland today for sentencing for the murder of 69-year-old Michael Mulholland.

Mr Mulholland's daughter told the court that the pain of losing her father was immense.

She said her father was just an old man who enjoyed collecting National Geographic magazines and reading. He treasured gifts and letters from his children like diamonds.

Yad-Elohim had been out of Auckland City Hospital's Te Whetu Tawera for only three days when he killed Mr Mulholland in September last year.

His lawyers argued he had a disease of the mind, was hearing voices at the time and had no way of telling right from wrong.

The Crown said despite having schizophrenia, he knew right from wrong and killed Mr Mulholland for revenge after losing $200 in a methamphetamine deal.

rnz.co.nz

Gabriel Yad-Elohim at the High Court in Auckland today. (Claire Eastham-Farrelly) Source: rnz.co.nz

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Legalising recreational cannabis could stem NZ’s epidemic of ‘zombie drug’ deaths, Peter Dunne says

Synthetic cannabis has killed more than 40 people in New Zealand since June last year, a massive jump from the previous five years, the coroner recently reported.

One way to serve a blow to the market for the so called zombie-drug in New Zealand would be to legalise recreational cannabis, former MP and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said today on TVNZ1's Breakfast.

But the suggestion came with a caveat.

"It would certainly remove some of the incentive for people to try some of these substances," he said. "But...some of these (synthetic drugs) are so potent and so powerful that people may well feel they'll get a better high from these rather than the real product.

"While on the face of it the answer would be yes (to marijuana legalisation), I don't think it's necessarily that simple."

Cannabis and synthetic cannabis are alike in name only. The synthetic variety, often consisting of dried herbs sprayed with chemical compounds derived from old medical studies, encompasses hundreds of different strains, Mr Dunne pointed out.

Two of the most potent versions, described as up to 10 times stronger that the ones that caused a "zombie" outbreak in the US due to the way users reacted to them, have been targeted by the Government for reclassification as Class A drugs.

That would mean penalties for dealing the drugs would increase substantially, from a couple years in prison to up to 14 years.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS yesterday.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Dunne agreed that the classification for those two strains should change, but he was sceptical that it would do anything to stem the overdose epidemic.

"They're already illegal, so this doesn't make them any more illegal," he said. "We shouldn't get carried away and assume that's going to resolve the problem...We need at the same time to be beefing up our treatment facilities to deal with the people who are suffering adverse consequences because they will continue to do so."

He also suggested putting in place "a coherent international warning system" and regulating the market for the less potent strains of synthetic cannabis - rather than continuing to outlaw all of them, pushing the market underground.

But even with those solutions, eradicating the drug altogether would be difficult because it's so easy to smuggle, he said.

Police are still trying to identify the men as they want to check on their welfare. Source: 1 NEWS

"The problem is there are hundreds of these, and there are rumours of several hundred more yet to hit the market, so this problem's not going to go away anytime soon," he said.

"If you're seeking to bring this stuff into the country, you bring it all in different bits and bobs so it doesn't look like a finished product. Who knows what's put together to give it its added bite."

But there’s a caveat to the idea, the former MP and associate health minister told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

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US surgeon accused of removing wrong organ and not telling patient

An American surgeon denies he breached the standard of care when he removed an Iowa woman's healthy kidney instead of her adrenal gland.

Dr Scott Baker and The Surgical Institute of South Dakota responded to a lawsuit filed by Dena Knapp last month alleging professional negligence, the Argus Leader reports. The response acknowledges Dr Baker removed Ms Knapp's right kidney instead of an adrenal gland and an associated mass during her October 2016 surgery.

Knapp says she wasn't told about the mix-up until after she was released from the hospital. She developed stage-three kidney disease after the surgery.

Dr Baker and the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hospital deny breaching the standard of care by removing the kidney, failing to remove the adrenal gland and failing to admit the mistake. They also deny that Ms Knapp suffered damages.



More chlorination likely with water services set to be centralised

The Government is set to strip councils of their power over water following Havelock North's 2016 gastro crisis which was a wake up call for the country.  

Speaking to Water New Zealand's conference today, the Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, gave her strongest hint yet of change. 

Havelock North's gastro outbreak prompted a review of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater nationwide.

The estimated cost of ensuring drinking water is safe is $500 million, and to fix water infrastructure, at least $2 billion. 

"The Government doesn't have a bottomless pit of money to throw at this," Ms Mahuta said.

But water won't be privatised. Instead, services are likely to be moved into a national water regulator and responsibility for water service stripped from the 67 councils and handed to a small number of entities.

Water NZ chief executive John Pfahlert said that would mean "you get better quality water and it doesn't cost as much to provide". 

But change for the water industry is unlikely to be without controversy.

Any change is likely to see authority over water taken away from local councils, and Local Government New Zealand will not be happy about that.

"We would have issues if it was compulsory because we believe bigger is not always better. New Zealand is incredibly diverse from the Far North to the Deep South," said Stuart Crosbie of Local Government NZ. 

Twenty per cent of drinking water is unsafe - so a national agency is likely to mean more chlorination.

"It's there for a good public health reason. So it'll take time for the communities like Christchurch and Geraldine and other parts of New Zealand which have traditionally not had treated water, to get their head around that," Mr Pfahlert said.

Back in Hawke's Bay, the health board is studying the long-term impacts of the campylobacter outbreak.

John Buckley's family believe he could be the fifth victim of Havelock North's gastro outbreak.

The 78-year-old died three weeks ago of a stroke, but prior to the crisis, they say he'd been healthy.

"He's spent a lot of time in hospital. He's had a lot of unexpected surgeries and bleeds and heart problems, kidney problems, all due to the campylobacter," said Kat Sheridan, Mr Buckley's daughter.

Ms Sheridan says the family wishes, "you can turn your tap on again and trustfully drink the water. Surely that's all we want".

Before any changes can happen Cabinet will need to approve the recommendations made in the review of water management. 

It comes after Havelock North's gastro crisis was a wake-up call for New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS