Over the past three years, The Children’s Hospital Trust has raised funds for the upgrade and expansion of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) – which saw its doors being officially opened in October 2017. Now, the final phase of the Trust’s recent fundraising appeal opens its doors to The Neonatal High Care Unit – which is a first for this stand-alone tertiary hospital.

Professor Andrew Argent, Medical Director and Head of Department of the (PICU) at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, explains the significance how the Hospital now has a dedicated area to care for tiny babies with special medical needs: “We finally have a purpose-built facility – the right space with the correct temperature and an overall conducive environment for new-born infants.  New born babies requiring assistance are no longer being cared for in a general ward, but in a space where the mother and infant can receive the best possible care. Opening the Unit’s doors to its first patient and mother during Women’s Month as well as World Breastfeeding Week is of extreme significance for the Hospital as it contributes to the profile of the Hospital as the leading institution in child healthcare in South Africa.”

Dr Anita Parbhoo, Medical Manager at The Red Cross Children’s Hospital echoes Prof Argent on the needs of infants: “Neonates are new-born infants up to four weeks old, who require special care as they adjust to life outside the womb. For sick neonates in hospital, besides looking after their physiological needs, attention must be paid to their psychosocial needs. This includes controlling the ambient temperature and the amount of light, noise and movement in their surrounding area. This purpose-built facility will allow hospitalised neonates to be cared for in a supportive environment which will encourage their development while they are recuperating from illness.”

Kiera Obery was the first of the four patients to enter the Hospital’s Neonatal High Care Unit and she is just three days old – this infant was born on Monday 30 July at the Mitchells Plain District Hospital but was soon referred to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital where she will receive the specialised medical care she needs.

The ambitious plan to create a neonatal high care unit was born out of a need and desire to enhance the quality of care the Hospital provides.  Dr Matodzi Mukosi, Chief Executive Officer of The Red Cross Children’s Hospital, shares his thoughts on the experience of working at the Hospital: “This is another milestone in our quest to continually improve the service we render to ill children. The opening of the neonatal high care beds in our new PICU unit will improve access to critical care for small babies who require highly specialised care.”

The Children’s Hospital Trust in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health is very grateful to all donors who have been incredibly supportive by contributing to the establishment of this much needed facility. This new Neonatal High Care Unit now has the space and required equipment that meets global standards, which includes a comfortable space for the family and the patient to be together while in hospital.