High Dependency Unit for GPHC’s pediatric ward in new year

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, December 15, 2017

The Georgetown Public Corporation’s (GPHC) pediatric ward is slated to be upgraded to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Included in the upgrade is a High Dependency Unit (HDU) which is expected to be completed within the first quarter of next year and will be able to accommodate at least ten children.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence during a visit of the pediatric ward today, disclosed that most of the requisite equipment has already been acquired.

“Very expensive equipment that was donated by Baby Heart surgery and we’re trying to upscale it so that it will become one of the first Pediatric ICU in the country for our children. Also attached will be a High Dependency Unit so as the children begin to feel better, they can be moved to that section”, Minister Lawrence explained.

A section in pediatric ward is being managed by the Baby Heart Foundation (BHF) which collaborates with the government to provide heart related surgeries to children diagnosed with severe heart diseases. Members of this team visit two to three times annually to perform the operations.

Minister Lawrence noted that the government has made a good investment and is committed to supporting the foundation. She added that the nurses stationed there are from Georgetown, Linden, New Amsterdam and Region Two among others.

“So, at the end of the day, they can go back to their hospitals and be able to share those skills they have learnt here. On this particular mission, they (BHF) have performed operations on 13 children. They’re just three now here. One is going home today and we have one child in the ICU, and we’re told he will be coming out of the ICU today”, the Public Health Minister underlined.

Pediatric Cardiologist of BHF, Dr. Rodrigo Soto said that apart from surgeries, the foundation is extensively focusing on building staff’s capacity in the unit.

“The purpose of this programme is that in a number of years this unit is run completely by Guyanese. We are moving in that direction. At the moment we’ve been training nurses and doctors and hopefully next year we open the High Dependency Unit which will be the baby step to open the first PICU in the country in 2019”, Dr. Soto explained.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer, GPHC, Brigadier George Lewis expressed his satisfaction with the work done thus far by the foundation. He said, “The cooperation between the government and Baby Heart is a wonderful initiative. Any cardiac type operation is very expensive and calls for skilled personnel, because any mistake and the person would die. So, them coming here reduces the cost for the surgeries, and patients don’t have to go overseas.”

Kay Alves, grandmother of seven-year-old Mickon Alves who will be discharged shortly from the ICU is grateful for the operation conducted on her grandson.

She said, “the volunteers that came to do the job did a magnificent job not only for Mickon, but many other children that I saw in there. He’s a “sickler” (has sickle cell) along with his heart and he’s doing really ok, he’s doing ok. I am thankful for the Ministry of Health, they saved me over a million dollars.”

By 2019, the ICU will be fully upgraded. The youngest patient to undergo surgery on this most recent mission was one month old.

By: Ranetta La Fleur

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