34 plus babies will benefit from the new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the KHMH. It's not finished yet but, today, the Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis Barrow took the media on a tour to see the progress so far. We learned that it's more than just a treatment facility. Director of Medical Services Dr. Lisa Johnson explained why they included the family centered element in the design. Here's the story.
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
This might look like an abandoned building with these pale walls and construction materials splayed across the floor.
But it's not. Work is very much in progress at the new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the KHMH.
In here is where the isolation rooms will be for critical cases. While in here will be the Neonatal area.
And this will be the play area for the kids. But this new space wasn't designed to cater only to the kids.
Kim Simplis Barrow, Special Envoy for women and children
"It will have a section for parents, a sleeping quarter for parents. As you know Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is the national referral hospital and people come all the way from Punta Gorda to seek medical help here and so some of these people don't really have family members or don't have the monies to stay at a hotel and so what we wanted to do is to make it very convenient for families, for parents to be able to stay here."
While both child and parent will be able to stay here, certain protocols will be put in place.
Dr. Lisa Johnson, Director, Medical Services, KHMH
"When you are children and parents, you are dealing with children, parents and the rest of the family and the community. This is the national referral hospital. Everything that is done here has national implications, so this unit is extremely important to our national existence. There will be protocol as to how people must be equipped and what they have to do to enter. You cannot see all of that, because right now as I said you are seeing the skeleton of the building. But there will be protocols designed for infection control, as we have in place at this very moment to NICU that we have today."
The unit should be fully completed in July.
A Tour of an Incomplete Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Work is ongoing at a new wing for pediatric care at the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital. The tragic death of thirteen neonatals who succumbed to an infection known as enterobacter cloacae contracted within the hospital, prompted the construction of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Work won’t be complete until next June, but the media got a tour of the work in progress this morning. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, a little over a year and a half in the making, is nearing completion. The project is the brainchild of Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis-Barrow and is being funded in part by the Oak Foundation. While construction on the additional wing is still underway, we were granted an advanced tour of the facility this morning.
Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women & Children
“As you may recall, last year we broke ground for this addition to the hospital and we are very happy today to have you all here to do a walkthrough of what it is, of where and how far we’ve come with the construction of the much needed pediatric intensive care unit.”
The building, despite ongoing works, boasts several features which will be child-friendly upon achievement. The initiative, a collaborative effort, including the Lifeline Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Ministry of Health and Challenge Gobie Foundation, was first introduced in December 2012. However, it wasn’t until July of the following year that contributions would be made toward the cause.
Dr. Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health [File: July 23, 2013]
“It is the largest grant that has been awarded to any organization in Belize and it shows, I think, the enormous respect that the international community has for the Special Envoy for Women and Children in particular and for the work of the Lifeline Foundation. We would particularly, once again, like to thank Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow and the directors for their continuous good work and we ask for the support of everyone in making this important event come through.”
With a launch date set for June, the project is being overseen by a dedicated team.
“I’m very happy to say that we’ve been working with Ms. Esther Ayuso and Mr. Gutierrez, the architect, and the construction guy who has been working very good with the office in terms of keeping the pace and keeping the construction going. We’ve have minor delays but nothing major, nothing to really complain about. We’re very pleased [with] how far the PICU has come and we’re hoping that we will be able to walk in this PICU sometime in June where children would be able to come and get medical care at this section of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.”
While the concept of a pediatric intensive care unit preceded the deaths of thirteen neonates at the K.H.M.H. in 2013, the tragedy underscores its necessity. The facility will provide exclusively the requirements of critically ill children and newborns.
“I think some very important parts of this PICU is that it will have a section for parents, a sleeping quarter for parents. As you know, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is a national referral hospital and people come all the way from Punta Gorda to seek medical help here and so some of these people don’t really have family members or have the monies to stay at a hotel. And so what we wanted to do was to make it very convenient for families, for parents to be able to stay here, to accompany their child. We know that when a child is severely ill there’s nothing better than hearing the voice or feeling the touch of a mom or a parent, a dad. So we wanted to make that a part of the feature here.”
In March 2014, the Japan Grassroots and Human Security Grants Project donated a hundred and twenty thousand U.S. dollars toward the initiative.
Hiromoto Oyama, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in Jamaica [File: March 14th, 2014]
“The project is to improve medical facility of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital at a cost of one hundred and nineteen thousand, seven hundred and five U.S. dollars, through the assistance of the Government of Japan. I’m particularly pleased that the signing takes place in the special year of 2014 which is being celebrated as the Japan CARICOM Friendship Year. Partnership such as this project demonstrates that commitment of the government of Japan to work with our friends in Caribbean Countries.”
Despite the assistance the project has gotten, there is still a shortage of finance to see the project through.
“We’re still waiting for additional funding to finish up this PICU. We have received funding from various organizations. One of the main organizations is the Oak Foundation where they donated a million towards the construction and million towards equipping the center. So we are very pleased and thankful that they were able to make that contribution.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.