New equipment gives Red Cross breathing room

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, emergency room.

An upgrade of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital emergency centre comes as a relief to staff seeing a wave of lung infections in children this winter.

The respiratory complaints in children under 5 aren’t Covid-related but are part of a regular seasonal surge in common winter viruses that spread fast at this time of year. But, because of the Covid-19 third wave, there’s not the same availability of beds, monitors and space there is usually.

However, reinforcements have arrived in the form of new medical equipment – oxygen blenders, monitors, incubators, resuscitation trolleys and more – paid for by donations to the Children’s Hospital Trust.

According to Professor Heloise Buys, head of the hospital’s clinical unit, there are between 3 to 12 Covid-19-positive children in the hospital on a normal day during the current wave. They are cared for in special Covid-19 wards and strict attention is paid to presenting the spread of infection.

An Airvo humidifier that delivers warmed and humidified respiratory gasses to spontaneously breathing patients is among the new equipment.

“With children suffering from respiratory failure such as pneumonia, asthma and bronchiolitis, the Airvo offers a non-invasive method to little patients to receive their oxygen,” Professor Buys said.

The hospital has had had to make contingency plans at times to make room for patients needing admission.

“We have had to commission areas where inpatients do not normally receive routine in-patient care to create extra beds, and this is not without cost,” said Professor Buys. “This also means that the routine services in those areas must be delayed. It is a matter of weighing and balancing the options.”

The new equipment has already started arriving at the hospital, and most of it is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

“The new emergency centre will soon have a better design, which will have better flow, and this will assist in moving patients in a more logical and orderly fashion, avoiding criss-crossing and chaos. The new equipment will allow us to build a lot of safety in how we handle our child patients,” Professor Buys said.

Patients will then get helped with their breathing in the emergency centre, with the new machines, instead of waiting to get to a ward.

Visit childrenshospitaltrust.org.za to find out more about the Children’s Hospital Trust and to donate.

The Airvo machine is needed to treat children who have acute respiratory illness.