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84-year-old Children’s Ward at Victoria Hospital gets a new beginning

Today, 23 January 2014, saw the official opening of the upgraded Paediatric Ward at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, Cape Town. Young patients from the largest sub-district in the Cape Metro area will now receive specialist medical care in modernised, spacious facilities with additional vital amenities. The much-needed upgrade will not only improve patients and families’ experience but vastly improve the working environment for the ward staff. The Children’s Hospital Trust’s fundraising campaign was kick-started with a R5million contribution from The Ackerman Family Foundation and the remaining R5million was raised largely through donations from individuals and corporates who have donated generously to support this initiative. 

Spokesperson for the VicKids Project: Ackerman Family Foundation, Mandy Ackerman said: “Today is a long-held dream realised, for me personally and for the Ackerman Family Foundation,” said Mandy Ackerman. “The Victoria Children’s Hospital has been close to my heart for many years – I have felt such joy witnessing a kwashi baby being lovingly cared for in our ward – smiling for the first time on the way to recovery; I’ve been sadden by abandoned children, and those born with foetal alcohol syndrome and other societal diseases. And now thanks to our partners these young patients will be treated in a beautiful new ward by a wonderful, dedicated medical team.” 

“Our deepest thanks to the Western Cape Government: Health for their speedy facilitation and contribution to this project; to the Honourable Minister Theuns Botha and his team, to the incredible Dr Gill Schermbrucker and her team for their truly commendable work and commitment; and of course a huge thank you to the Children’s Hospital Trust for making this happen – on time, on budget and for raising the balance of the funding needed to ensure this day would come.” 

This renovation at Victoria Hospital is the Children’s Hospital Trust’s first completed building project outside the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, since expanding its fundraising reach to paediatric healthcare needs in the Western Cape. Louise Driver, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust, says, “Fundraising for paediatric child healthcare in the Province means that the Children’s Hospital Trust is able to alleviate the pressure on the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, which manages an estimated 260 000 patient visits from all over Southern Africa each year. Victoria Hospital’s paediatric ward upgrade is a perfect example of this objective as young patients at Victoria Hospital who require high-care or ICU admission are stabilised and then transferred to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. The patients then return to Victoria Hospital once they are ready for ward-care and long-term follow up, so there is a strong link between these two institutions to provide the best medical care possible for shared-care patients.”

According to Dr Gill Schermbrucker, Head of Department of Paediatrics at Victoria Hospital, the extended and upgraded paediatric ward with adequate isolation cubicles and renovated ablution facilities will ensure an improved service for their young patients and comfortably accommodate parents and caregivers who wish to stay overnight at their children’s bedsides. Ward staff have also been affected by the lack of space for storage, a counselling room for patients nor an appropriate area in which to do medical procedures, and all are now in high spirits as they look forward to moving into the new ward that caters for all these needs. 

The refurbished ward with revamped Paediatric Outpatients Department will support Victoria Hospital’s holistic approach to child care to involve the mothers and carers in the multidisciplinary health team and so ensure a long-term health outcome for children. 

In his address the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, spoke about the service pressure at Victoria Hospital. “The hospital has a very high patient turnover and high adult and paediatric bed occupancy rate. The paediatric ward has an average of 150 – 240 admissions per month. Average bed occupancy in the paediatric ward ranges between 80% and 130%.” 

“The ward cares for patients with a wide range of conditions including acute respiratory infections, malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease, infectious diseases and chronic non-communicable diseases. 65% to 70% of children are younger than a year old, and at least 15% are HIV positive. 

“Many patients require isolation and the average length of stay is 3 days, although this can range from overnight to 8 weeks.”

Minister Botha said “We are very grateful for the royal contribution of the Ackermans. This ward is a testimony to their loyalty and their commitment to the well-being of our children. 

Delivering the keynote address, Premier Helen Zille commended the Ackerman family for their commitment to paediatric care in South Africa. She also praised the doctors, health managers and care workers for their care and commitment working in circumstances where the service pressures are extreme at present. 

“But too much of our health budget is spent on adult diseases that could have been prevented by taking responsible decisions such as not smoking, not drinking, walking instead of driving as an example. We intend to increasingly focus our resources on non-preventable diseases.” 

The new paediatric ward will now allow parents at the bedside of their children provide isolation cubicles and also make provision for critical areas required for counselling, parent’s restroom, procedure room, offices, ablutions and storage space for equipment. Western Cape Government provided additional funding to facilitate the fit-out of additional ward space on the floor below accommodating 10 additional bed units.

 


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