– represents another step in the advancement of paediatric cardiac care
By Sharmain Grainger
It was long in coming but it is finally here!
The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] is now home to a Paediatric Critical Care Unit, which has boosted the public health facility’s capacity to cater to some of the nation’s most critically ill children.
The 16-bed facility also houses Intensive Care [ICU] and High Dependency [HDU] Units. Situated in the northern section of the hospital’s compound, it will essentially complement the hospital’s Paediatric Surgery programme.
Already some 24 young lives have utilised the state-of–the–art facility, which was completed to the tune of approximately US$1 million, which represents investments from the Ministry of Public Health/GPHC and the International Children’s Heart Foundation [ICHF], which has been lending its paediatric heart surgery support to Guyana through the GPHC for the past three years.
ICHF, which is also known as the Baby Heart Foundation, is an organisation which has as its mission to “bring the skills, technology and knowledge to cure and care for children with congenital heart disease in developing nations…”
The lives of many children, with varying levels of heart complications, have been saved through this programme, which is offered free of cost at the GPHC.
Ahead of the commissioning of the facility, ICHF experts with their local counterparts conducted 24 procedures – 12 open-heart surgeries and 12 cardiac catherisations.
Heading the GPHC Paediatric Surgery Programme is Paediatric Surgeon, Dr. Marissa Seepersaud – the Baby Heart Foundation’s Country Coordinator and the Coordinator of the Paediatric Critical Care Unit, who along with her team, have been able to benefit from the training and unprecedented support over the years.
The support from ICHF has essentially helped Dr. Seepersaud and team to fulfil what can only be deemed a passion – helping to save the lives of children. They have over the years worked tirelessly to learn the intricacies of saving the lives of children who otherwise would have required medical care overseas or died because of the lack of capable medical attention.
According to Dr. Seepersaud, the realisation of the facility is in fact a good example of what team work can do.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people. I have had a lot of support and encouragement from the Baby Heart Foundation and also from a lot of local physicians and nurses to try to push this forward, because we all recognised that Guyanese children also deserve the very best of care when they are critically ill, whether from an infection or recovering from surgery, or whatever else is making them really ill.”
“They require the expertise of properly qualified and trained nurses and support staff to get them better,” said Dr. Seepersaud, as she promised to continue to lead her committed team forward.
Among the team members whose acquired expertise will be fully utilised in the new facility are: Sister Marissa Singh – the Nurse Manager for Paediatrics and the Baby Heart Unit; Nurse Christian Rodrigues – the Nurse Manager of the facility’s HDU; and Dr. Tariq Davidson – the Doctor in Charge of the HDU.
But there are other crucial personnel whose services are required to ensure the facility operates optimally.
“It is not just the physicians and the nurses, but everybody, from those who help us to clean the space to those who help to take care of the instruments in the OR [Operating Room] and assist us every step of the way,” Dr. Seepersaud asserted.
Speaking at the commissioning of the new facility Friday, ICHF’s Chief Executive Officer of Clinical Operations, Dr. Rodrigo Soto, said, “We have been working for three years basically developing a paediatric cardiac programme and at the same time a paediatric intensive care unit.”
He is certainly pleased that the efforts were not in vain, and were fully supported by the administrators of the GPHC and the Ministry of Public Health.
According to Dr. Soto, GPHC is currently in the admirable position of being the lone health facility in Guyana to have in place, not only a paediatric intensive care unit, but a Paediatric Critical Care Unit for that matter.
“There are definitely a lot of things that we should be proud of, and certainly this unit is an important point in the road we have been walking for three years,” said Dr. Soto, as he spoke of the potential of the unit to cater to critically ill patients.
“Any patient who requires special care after surgery, any surgery; not only cardiac, any critically-ill patient can be taken care of here with the appropriate treatment and physicians and nurses 24/7.”
Dr. Soto envisages the GPHC being able to do even more in the coming years. In fact, he disclosed that the next proposed step is to expand the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, which he anticipates could be realised by the start of 2020.
“That will definitely be the culmination of this road regarding critical care,” said an optimistic Dr. Soto, as he lauded the commitment of local personnel over the years to what has been achieved thus far. “It has not been an easy road, but we have been able to achieve this, and it is a huge achievement,” he asserted.
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