Having a child who is sick enough to be in and out of the kid's ward is any parent's "worst nightmare", according to Adam Henley who has been in hospital with daughter Kayla countless times over the past five years.
The 13-year-old Albion Park girl was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2018 and relapsed in March 2022.
It means Kayla and her family have watched a $4.3 million overhaul of the Wollongong Hospital children's ward, officially unveiled on September 18, take shape over the past five years.
"You feel like you're sitting there helpless and you can't do anything to help your kid," Mr Henley said, of his daughter's cancer diagnosis and relapse.
"It's not something you ever want to be doing, so anything that makes hospital more pleasant really makes a big difference."
The ward has been revamped using funds from the i98 Illawarra Convoy, with work starting in 2018.
Over four stages, the project has included refurbishment of all patient rooms, the relocation of the hospital school, a new family room and playroom, new procedure room and clinical skills area, a new medical day unit and the creation of two close observation rooms.
The last stage was a new paediatric assessment area and outpatient rooms, which will allow the hospital to better support children with more complex care needs.
Mr Henley said the new family room allowed Kayla to do more everyday things like baking while in hospital, while the extra medical facilities meant she was able to receive chemotherapy closer to home.
"We've watched the renovation since it started and the difference is amazing," he said.
"It's so much brighter and happier and there's more room, and this time around we can do some of our treatment down here.
"We come here every third month for IV chemo, which is great and makes it a bit easier - it means it's not a full day, Kayla can still go to school in the morning if she wants to."
Nursing Unit Manager Julie Haines said the renovation had made a massive difference.
"I think we thought we had a beautiful ward in the beginning, which we did when we moved in 25 years ago," she said.
"But things date, they get dark and dingy and now it's so open, fresh and clean, and it just feels bigger and less clinical.
"The bright colours make it less like a hospital, and if we can provide a really comfortable environment, kids are a little bit less scared about being here.
"There's also more areas for mum and dad, coffee 24-hours a day and we also have a family room, which is a nicer space for people to spend time in."
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Chief Executive Margot Mains said the $4.3 million raised by the community had "absolutely transformed" the ward and made a huge difference to 6000 children and their families.
"To come into hospital as a child is not easy, to come in as a parent or family member is not easy," she said.
"But when you have a hospital that supports clinical needs and services that are delivered by our brilliant clinicians, and is supported by an environment that is comforting, reassuring, and better designed, it makes one huge difference."
"That has all been enabled by the Convoy and the people of the Illawarra."
Health Minister Ryan Park said the work helped to make hospital a less daunting place for local families.
"Creating better access and convenience for parents, a brighter space for kids and greater comfort can make all the different when a child is sick," he said.
"We all know the Illawarra is a truly amazing community, and this is a terrific example of the generosity and commitment of those who contribute to the Convoy fundraiser each year.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.