I apologise for the poor quality of the photos - I did not have the camera with me - but I figured that to the those of you interested, the content would probably weigh above the quality :)
So: in Invercargill hospital's paediatrics department there is a children's play area, like many hospitals probably have. It's well-stocked and colorful. But in a way that's surprising to me - it is also staffed by a qualified early-childhood-teacher.
It gets funding from the Ministry of Education in the same way that preschools and kindergartens do. The children come and go, yes, so their "student roll" doesn't function in the same way that it usually does in preschools where children go for years - in a hospital some are only there for a day, some for several weeks, and some come at regular intervals, like a little chap we met today who is there for one day every 4 weeks sharp.
But still: linked to Ministry of Education rather than the District Health Board means that it doesn't compete for funding with the likes of cancer drugs, qualified nurses and everything else a hospital does.
It is there for the enjoyment and the benefit of kids, and, man!, do I think it's cool.
Edited to add: having a qualified early childhood teacher in attendance also means that parents can legally pop out of the room, for example, to go grab a lunch or use the toilet or whatever, and leave their children there for a little. Like that little chap we met yesterday: connected to an IV line for ten hours straight, if his mom didn't have the option of going to the toilet or getting food or doing other things an adult sometimes needs to do, it would be an even tougher time than it already is.