R100 million Ground Breaking upgrades at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health:

Today, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo launched the beginning of upgrades amounting to R100 million at Red Cross War Memorial Hospital.

With a great need for paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in South Africa, a R100 million-plus expansion and upgrade of the Paediatric ICU (PICU) at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital will significantly improve intensive care services given to critically ill and injured children.

Construction has officially begun on the unit, which is expected to be completed by October 2017. The new PICU will be able to accommodate extra patients in need. The 22-bed facility will increase to 39 bed spaces, which will include an much-needed 10-bed High Care Unit for neonates as well as isolation cubicles. The high care unit and the isolation cubicles will ensure optimal treatment through better infection control, which is critical in ICU.

The expansion and upgrade will also create a comfortable and supportive space for parents as well as breastfeeding mothers. Currently, family members have no privacy or space between life-saving equipment as they sit vigil at their child’s side. Increased space will also mean that staff who work very long hours saving lives in tough conditions, will have adequate accommodation. These staff members work tirelessly to provide clinical, educational and research services.

Currently the 22-bed PICU at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital is the largest ICU for children in Africa. It provides emergency care for critically ill or injured children from within the Western Cape as well as the rest of South Africa and the African continent. There is a great need to boost its capacity due to the growing demand for ICU beds in the country. This demand is driven by the increases in surgery requirements and escalations in detection of serious illnesses.

Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, said: “The project will certainly improve the current services that are offered for our paediatric patients not only in the province, but throughout the country. This will allow for more patients to be treated in the PICU. We would like to thank our partners who continue to collaborate with us in order to complement our services in the public health system.”

The Children’s Hospital Trust, which is fundraising for the R100 million-plus project, works alongside Western Cape Government Health. Government will contribute R30 million towards the ICU. The budget includes building costs as well as equipment needed for the unit.

CEO of the Trust, Louise Driver, explains, “The current Paediatric ICU not only has too few beds, but is also confined and crowded with insufficient space around the patients’ beds to accommodate life-saving equipment, nursing staff and anxious parents. There is also no suitable and private space for breastfeeding mothers and family counselling. As more nursing staff are required to be on duty 24/7, there is a real lack of comfortable staff facilities. The expansion and upgrade comes at a critical time and will go a long way in supporting child healthcare not only in South Africa but for other parts of the continent as well. This aim could not be reached without the incredibly generous donors who contribute to our efforts.”

The ground-breaking ceremony marks the start of what is set to be an impressive project, addressing the needs of little patients who need intensive care services.

In early 2016, the Trust will roll out a public appeal to raise the final R10 million for the upgrade and expansion of the Paediatric ICU.