New multilingual library at Braeside Hospital

Braeside Hospital's Director of Medical Services Dr Friedbert Kohler, Pastoral Care Coordinator Karryn Chivers and Rehab Ward Clerk Audrey Samell.
Braeside Hospital's Director of Medical Services Dr Friedbert Kohler, Pastoral Care Coordinator Karryn Chivers and Rehab Ward Clerk Audrey Samell.

Just like any good book, this story has a beginning, middle and end - plus an added bit of drama.

It all starts with a Croatian-speaking rehab patient having no access to reading material in his native language during his three months recovery from a stroke at Braeside Hospital.

Throw in a pandemic and limited visitors and all of sudden the days started to get a little bit longer for the 82-year-old.

"Upon getting to know him I could see that he was really not a television person, and we had no Croatian books to offer him to read," Pastoral Care Coordinator Karryn Chivers said.

"I brought him a tablet to use so he could log into some Croation music but it really was not his thing.

"One day I arrived to visit him and discovered him reading a Croatian book that his son had brought him. The next week he beamed as he told me he was reading it through for the second time."

Braeside Hospital's Director of Medical Services Dr Friedbert Kohler with Aroha Sakira, Eden Samuel, Audrey Samuel and Karryn Chivers.

Braeside Hospital's Director of Medical Services Dr Friedbert Kohler with Aroha Sakira, Eden Samuel, Audrey Samuel and Karryn Chivers.

It has led to the birth of a new multilingual library at HammondCare's Braeside Hospital.

Rehab ward clerk Audrey Samuel got in touch with daughter Eden, who works at multilingual bookshop Lost in Books in Fairfield, and a short time later, Eden arrived with 15 bags full of books in a range of different languages including a Stephen King thriller in Spanish.

It is hoped the donation will be the start of a growing library to cater for the diversity of patients with 335 of the 740 patients admitted to Braeside in the last financial year having a first language other than English.

Think+DO Tank Foundation chief executive Jane Stratton, who operate the kids' multilingual bookshop Lost in Books, said it was central to the charity's work to "put books into the hands of people who need them".

"It's central to our mission to bring people reading material and promote story telling in all languages in the community," Ms Stratton said.

And while the tale has a happy ending - there is a twist.

The stroke victim completed his recovery in late August, and returned home before the donated books arrived. It wouldn't have mattered because none of the 50 donated books are in Croatian. Turns out, Croatian books are hard to come by in Australia.

The search is now to source some literature to meet the needs of future Croatian speaking patients and also a cabinet or bookcase to accommodate the new library in the rehab ward area.

"That patient's loneliness started all this, so I want to find some books in his language in case he visits us again," Karryn said.