When Kate Mitchell’s youngest son started having a seizure while they were living in Narrikup last year, it sparked an idea to create a regional hub for medical services and hospital bags for families who unexpectedly found themselves in hospital. Her experience led her to create and launch The Darcy Effect which aims to provide hospital bags for regional families in a medical emergency. She’s also teamed up with Perth Kids Hub to pilot the first stage in its regional program, The Kids Hub, to provide easy access to services and support for regional families. Darcy Mitchell, who was only 16-months-old at the time, was found having a seizure in February, 2022 by his older brother who called for Ms Mitchell and she began performing CPR. “The first six months is really rocky because you’re trying to get answers, and it’s really difficult to get answers, especially being a bit more remote and isolated,” Ms Mitchell said. “And it was during COVID.” While Darcy was admitted at Albany Health Campus, Ms Mitchell was the only one allowed in with him, the only contact she could have was with nurses and doctors. “You pretty much up and leave, and when you get into town you don’t have really simple things with you,” she said. “You don’t have like shampoo, conditioner, toys, and then you go back home to get it and you’re looking at a decent round trip when you’re in a pretty emotional state as a family. “So I was like: ‘what can I do to help?’, and that’s how we created the hospital bags.” A fortnight later Darcy suffered another seizure and this time was flown from Albany Health Campus to Perth Children’s Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He had been suffering tonic-clonic seizures. Ms Mitchell was unable to have any contact with her husband Matt, and had to resort to buying essentials while her son was admitted at Perth Children’s Hospital during COVID, saying that’s “all I had”. “I remember flying on the RFDS plane and I had nothing,” she said. “We didn’t really know what was going to happen because it was (during) COVID. “So even when Matt got to Perth, he gave the security guard the bag who handed it to me across the hallway. “I didn’t get a hug, I didn’t get a kiss, I got nothing. “And so many people were going through that and the nurses were buying things, they were doing everything that they could do in a situation that was really tricky. “And that’s how the bags were kind of born.” In order to fund these essentials bags for other families, Ms Mitchell began a merchandise line as part of The Darcy Effect. “I was sending the bags out and I thought, ‘how am I going to make this sustainable?’” she said. “So now I sell my own merchandise so that it will pay for more bags and items for bags. “But then it started to catch on and now we have business sponsors around town as well. The idea to collaborate with Perth Kids Hub followed leaving PCH and making the 400km trip home. The aim of the hub is to eventually provide a list of allied health professionals and telehealth options to regional and remote families around the country following the Great Southern pilot. “After Darcy’s diagnosis we were given the medical stuff and medication that we needed,” Ms Mitchell said. “The hospital is really good at making sure that you have the skills that you need if he has a seizure, and being out of town that you’re well equipped and you’re well-informed. “But you’re exhausted. “Then you leave hospital and you drive the 400km home and you finally have some rest, and you start having all of these questions. “Or you might be saying ‘I wonder if I need this monitor?’ and for us getting the diagnosis took a bit of time. “So once we finally had it, it was like; ‘where to next?’ or ‘how do you get that original diagnosis?’ because that would be probably the most stressful element of it. “There’s so many great resources that we have, we just don’t know they exist or where to find them, and so it’s just to help people on their journey and where they can find that support.” Darcy hasn’t had a seizure since September, but requires ongoing visits to the neurologist.