Six for sick

Three-year-old Marisa Oughterson, with parents Malcolm Oughterson (left) and Natasha Roberts (right), along with Dr. Kandamaran Krishnamurthy (behind) and Shelly Ross (centre) of the charity.

A six-bed paediatric intensive care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to treat really sick children is the ideal care facility specialists there are hoping for.

Head of Paediatrics, Dr. Clyde Cave, made the disclosure as the PICU accepted the first set of funds to be donated by A Gift For Children Charity.

The three-bed unit in the Paediatric Ward of the hospital, Cave stated, cared for not just local children, but handled referrals from the wider Caribbean as well, having had cases from the British Virgin Islands and Windward Islands in the recent past.

Consultant with the unit, Kandamaran Krishnamurthy told Barbados TODAY that there was one other half-bed that was pressed into service when needed, but Cave noted that ideally six beds would give them enough space and resources to work with, especially when the unit got busy.

“Generally in the peak season we can squeeze in four children and sometimes we try to manage them in the ward once they are getting [better], and we bring the sickest inside [the PICU] on a case by case basis,” said Krishnamurthy.

“It is tricky because most of the time I would say we average about two patients, but there are times when there might be five or six and one of the things we would use the unit for is if we bring specialists down for a series of operations on the children and if they do four children, those four would come here for their recovery and that would be a problem. But that is a relatively short period of time of the year and that is part of what we balance and we compensate by moving the equipment out to the general ward to look after the child,” added Cave.

An increase in the size of the unit would call for more space, an increase in the number of nurses, and additional equipment, although he noted that the hospital’s recent acquisition of 10 ventilators would reduce the need for one of the main pieces of machinery required.

The paediatrics chief said that while there were other considerations to the question of expanding, namely the future construction of a new hospital, he noted that the funds donated by the charity today would go some ways towards improving care.

“This actual donation has been earmarked for the training of a team of nurses and doctors who will then ensure that all our staff in the unit, both doctors and nurses are annually recertified in a form of high standard resuscitation and immediate post resuscitation care of children.

“It is something we do but we will now have it accredited and certified on an annual basis so that everyone will constantly be up to the highest level of skills,” he said, adding that a team of two doctors and two nurses would be trained initially to then train the rest of the unit.

Cave said the cost of care there was substantial, adding that they were grateful for every bit of assistance given.

President of the charity, Shelly Ross said although they were a relatively new organisation, they were hoping to make more contributions like this one, with the help of the public that would benefit children like three-year-old Marisa Oughterson, who is currently being cared for in the unit.

“When we thought about giving back, we thought there was no better way than to assist very sick children of Barbados. We chose the PIC unit because we are aware of the work done here. It is unfortunate that some of us in Barbados still think that we don’t have care here to compete with the wider world.

“But it is because of efforts like A Gift for the Children that we will continue to enhance equipment here at the PICU and give them more opportunities to do better,” she stated, praising the work of the medical team there. (LB)

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