“I was so hot; I was so scared and sore!  I didn’t realise what was happening.”

These are the words of 11-year-old Esona who lives in Worcester with his grandmother and cousins.  Esona was rushed to the Emergency Centre of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital from the local hospital in Worcester after his pajamas caught alight from the flames of a candle. Nearly 6 weeks ago, the children were playing outside when the electricity went off. It was getting cold and dark outside, so the children were asked to come inside. The door was left open, so Esona lit the candle on the table and used the light from the candle to guide him to the open door. The draft from the open door caused the flame to latch onto his pajama top and it caught alight, the flames moved quickly. Everybody started screaming and this courageous child remembered his teacher telling him to roll in the sand and he rushed outside to do just that. “I don’t remember much, but I do remember one time waking up at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and seeing my grandmother and family there praying and that made me so happy.”

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital has been a place where countless children have been treated and cured. It has been a place of marvels for the families and caregivers, a mainstay of hope, a place that provides care and reassurance at a time when their world is in turmoil. Like Esona’s family, no-one plans to end up in an emergency unit. But when they do, there is no time to waste and this means making sure that any emergency centre facility is designed to give the best possible care in the shortest space of time.

The core values of the Emergency Centre at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital are to provide the best possible care for children in a family-friendly environment. The medical team at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and partners identified key areas that needed to be upgraded and expanded to ensure that children continue to receive the best possible care and that their families are supported while these young patients are receiving emergency care.

“We have a team of dedicated employees who are passionate to provide compassionate care to patients coming through our Emergency Centre. The upgrade of this centre will further boost staff morale and improve patient experience. We are thankful to the Children’s Hospital Trust and a community of generous donors who have committed to upgrading our Emergency Centre”-  Dr. M. Mukosi, Chief Executive Officer Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Key changes include the following:

  • Specialised Units of Care within the Emergency Centre
  • Burns Room
  • Decontamination/Isolation Room with separate entrance from the outside
  • Calm Room
  • Child Protection Room
  • Family Counselling Room
  • Lift from EC to Theatres and ICU
  • Separate Triage Rooms
  • Medical and Trauma Resuscitation closer to each other
  • Improved staff and teaching facilities

In future, children with burns injuries like Esona will receive critical care in the burns room before going up to theatre for surgery and at the same time, his family will be able to wait in a comfortable waiting area while their child is receiving the care they need. A family-friendly environment provides much-needed care and support for families as they are going through a very difficult time.

There are two parts to the Emergency Centre, the Medical Resuscitation side headed by Dr. Heloise Buys and the Trauma side, headed by Prof. Sebastian van As.

Dr. Heloise Buys says: “As a flagship Children’s hospital, we strive to provide world-class emergency care to all our critically ill children – many of whom come from very vulnerable socio-economic circumstances.”

“Our current challenge: We are seeing an increasing number of very sick children and it is clear that the needs of our population have outgrown the current infrastructure and we are struggling to accommodate our patients – at times we have to place two children on one resuscitation bed-clearly, this hampers our ability to provide true patient-centred care.

The solution: Responding to this challenge involves improving the space and layout of the unit – this will make a huge impact on the efficiency and patient-centred experience and  will allow us as emergency care providers to children, to operate within the parameters and standards of the Western Cape Government DoH  by making a positive impact on our patient outcomes every day.”

Prof Sebastian van As says: “The Trauma Unit sees around 30 – 40 children a day. It is a privilege to be working there but can be challenging because of the relentless stream of severely traumatized children and the social environment they often come from. Trauma is one of the greatest scourges of childhood. The new Trauma Centre will provide the most severely injured children with improved treatment facilities and a better chance to survive and recover from their injuries.”

The building will start during the last week of April 2019 and will be completed towards the end of 2020. The aim of the upgrade and expansion of the Emergency Centre is to improve the flow of the patients moving through the unit and ensure that the family is comfortable while they wait for their children to receive lifesaving care.

 100 percent of the donations received will go directly to the project, R36 million has been raised to date.

To help ensure that the Children’s Hospital Trust can raise all the funds to assist the hospital and the children they care for by Upgrading and Expanding the Emergency Centre, please contribute and Leave Your Mark on Life.