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The building which has been a haven for travelling patients and their family has said goodbye to its last guest.

Located in the heart of the Waikato Hospital campus, Hilda Ross House has heard the laughs and cries of more than 200,000 people as they came through the doors over the past 50 years.

Waikato District Health Board director of business Melinda Ch’ng said it was sad to see staff and patients leave the building for the final time.

“If only the walls could talk, the stories this place could tell,” she said with jest.

Originally the house was opened in 1963 to house student nurses during their practicum; however in 1993 it became onsite accommodation for many families, patients and training doctors at Waikato Hospital.

“It is very sad to see this building go, it has the soul of the hospital inside it,” said Ch’ng.

Hilda Ross House manager Donna Craig-Brown has run the accommodation house for the last 15 years and said it has been a place of support to many over the years.

“It has given back what it’s been given. We have had over 200,000 people walk through those doors and given them a moment of solace when they needed it,” she said.

“It was a place for all types of people from mum’s with babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, to out-of-town renal patients, to the doctors and nursing staff who have done their training here.”

Earlier this year the health board deemed the building an earthquake risk, despite it only registering 15 per cent on the scale, this was largely because of its proximity to other parts of the hospital including the new acute services building which houses emergency department and acute wards.

Deconstruction will begin in December and will take up to a year to complete.

Limited low-cost accommodation will be available onsite for people who are supporting seriously ill patients at the hospital. Waikato DHB has made arrangements with local lodges and motels to ensure eligible patients and their support person have access to accommodation.

The future of what may appear in Hilda Ross House’s place is still unknown but Waikato DHB director of nursing and midwifery Sue Hayward, said she believes whatever comes after this will be built on the future of what stood here before.

“The spirit of the hospital has always come oozing out of the conversations housed inside Hilda Ross House.”

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