Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital still needs to raise R60.1 million to see the completion of its planned upgrades and expansion to the Emergency Centre by 2021.
The hospital held a ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday April 30, where it appealed to its donors and the community at large, to help the hospital reach its goal of raising R102 million for the project. To date, they have managed to raise R41.9 million.
The planned upgrades include specialised units of care within the Emergency Centre; burns room, decontamination/ isolation room with separate entrance from the outside, calm room, child protection room, family counselling room, a lift from the Emergency Centre to theatres and ICU, separate triage rooms, medical and trauma resuscitation closer to each other, and improved staff and teaching facilities.
Construction will start at the end of the month, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. The aim of the upgrade and expansion of the Emergency Centre is to improve the flow of the patients moving through the unit, and ensure that the family are comfortable while they wait for their children to receive lifesaving care.
At the ceremony, the Children’s Hospital Trust chairman, Randall Titus, said this had been their most ambitious project to date, but he was confident they would raise the necessary funds.
He said the trust had managed to raise an immense amount of money over the years, which all went towards upgrades and expansions at the hospital, buying equipment and staff training.
“Every rand we raise, we spend on projects, and not a cent of it is used on administration,” he said.
The trust was established in 1994 to fund-raise for the hospital, and in 2011 expanded its reach to fund-raise for paediatric healthcare in the province and beyond. The trust is a non-profit organisation that relies on donors to realise its aims and objectives.
The Emergency Centre consists of two parts, the medical resuscitation side, headed by Dr Heloise Buys, and the trauma side, headed by Professor Sebastian van As.
Dr Buys said they saw an increase in the number of sick children, and it became clear that the needs of the population had outgrown the current infrastructure at the hospital.
“We are struggling to accommodate our patients – at times we have to place two children on one resuscitation bed; clearly this hampers our ability to provide true patient-centred care,” said Dr Buys.
Professor Van As said the trauma unit saw between 30 to 40 children a day.
“It is a privilege to be working here, but it can be challenging because of the relentless stream of severely traumatised children, and the social environment they often come from,” he said.
“Trauma is one of the greatest scourges of childhood. The new centre will provide the most severely injured children with improved treatment facilities, and a better chance to survive and recover from their injuries,” he said.
Over the years, the hospital has been a place where countless children have been treated and cured. One such patient is one-year-old Kiiara Louw, who was diagnosed in the womb with Congenital High Airway Obstruction Syndrome (CHAOS) during a regular check-up.
Her mother, Sasha, was five months pregnant at the time. She was referred to Groote Schuur for a full assessment, where it was found that the foetus had CHAOS, which saw her larynx not fully developed, resulting in sealed airways at the level of the vocal cords.
At the ceremony, Ms Louw said someone suggested she try the Red Cross, as the other hospitals were not able to assist her.
Red Cross and Groote Schuur performed a ground-breaking surgery, and delivered Kiiara via Caesarean section at 38 weeks. After a month in hospital they were finally discharged, but this was short-lived as one day Kiiara stopped breathing and was unresponsive.
Her mother recalled the day, and the panic that ensued as they thought this was the end for their little girl.
“Kiiara is one year old now, and when we look back to where we started, it’s been a journey. The staff at Red Cross have been instrumental in our journey, and have gone the extra mile for us. Kiiara would not be here without Red Cross,” she said.
Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, said during her term, the department had tried to showcase that health is not just about social issues, but it is an economic investment.
“We are unapologetic in our call for hospitals to establish more trusts, such as this, to go and look for money.”
Dr Mbombo said the ceremony was about two things related to the Constitution: firstly the Emergency Centre, in terms of Section 27, where it states that no one can be denied access to emergency medical services, and secondly, she said it related to the rights of the children.
“These two issues are paramount. When we invest in the cause, it’s not about doing favours, but it is also about making the Constitution a reality,” she said.
To donate, visit childrenshospitaltrust.org.za