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We purchased a new piece of equipment for patients in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to help them participate in physical activity earlier.
The WCH admits approximately 500 patients to PICU each year. Long-stay patients are at risk of ICU-acquired weakness and survivors of critical illness are reported to have long-term physical, psychological and quality-of-life impairments. These collective impairments are referred to as Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS).
A MOTOmed Layson supine cycle is a piece of equipment to help patients at risk of PICS. Mobilisation techniques can be limited for critically ill children, so this cycle provides a safe and feasible way for patients to participate in physical activity earlier. It works similarly to an exercise bike, however patients use it lying down in bed and can participate even if they are very weak.
The equipment reduces the prevalence of ICU-acquired weakness and improves the mental health and wellbeing of patients at risk of PICS.
We purchased a $58,000 portable anaesthesia system that administers general anaesthesia to paediatric patients of all ages and can be used in multiple areas of the Hospital such as in the Michael Rice Centre for Haematology and Oncology, PICU and the operating theatres.
In the Michael Rice Centre, it is used with patients who may require chemotherapy, bone marrow biopsies or lumbar punctures (a medical procedure in which a needle is inserted into the spinal canal, most commonly to collect fluid for testing).
It is also used to provide anaesthesia for children unable, or too young, to remain still for undergoing diagnostic scans such as CT scans.
The machine allows these treatments to be done in the comfort and familiarity of the clinic or ward space they are used to, rather than the patient needing to be taken to the operating theatres, which reduces the stress that can be experienced by young patients.
We celebrated the launch of our extraordinary new 30-metre window mural at the WCH!
The Mirdilyayanthi window mural is presented by our Arts in Health Program in partnership with the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN).
This mural installation is an extension of the Tarnanthi 2021 festival exhibition of the same name. Five Aboriginal artists created individual pieces that were an expression of their inner-self and an act of love for their Aboriginality and country. Elements from these individual works have now been transformed into the window mural at the WCH, enriching the environment for new parents, young patients, families, staff and visitors.
The beauty of the mural is further enhanced by the shadows it casts onto the corridor.
The artists and partners of this project hope the Mirdilyayanthi window mural creates a space to find some strength, to keep strong, and to shine bright.
We’ve seen children chasing the cast shadows, jumping over sections of the patterned light. The mural is bringing joy to those engaging with the space.
Inpatients in the WCH Eating Disorder Program are getting crafty to help with their treatment and improve their wellbeing.
For patients with eating disorders, undergoing treatment can cause high levels of distress. During their hospital admission, they are supervised to eat and are monitored for an hour after meals.
To offer some distraction during this hour, patients are invited to take part in a knitting program. Participants are loaned knitting kits and provided projects to work on tailored to their skill level.
Child and Mental Health Services (CAHMS) Consultation Liaison Service Clinical Coordinator, Karen Bradbury, says, “This project provides support by giving patients an activity that may help distract from their anorectic thinking, hence reducing their anxiety and distress after eating/gastric feeding.”
“As a flow-on effect, the reduction of their distress reduces the distress of other patients in the ward.”
2-year-old Marcus is under the care of the Paediatric Palliative Care Service at the WCH. He and his family were invited to stay at our Laklinyeri Beach House – a medically equipped holiday home in Victor Harbor for children in palliative care or with complex care needs, as well as bereaved families.
Marcus’ mum, Joyce, says, “We absolutely love everything about the Beach House, it’s been incredible in so many different ways to cater for our little man Marcus.”
Thanks to the size and layout of the Beach House, families often invite their friends and relatives to stay as well. Marcus’ parents, siblings, aunty and uncle, cousins, grandparents and great-grandfather all enjoyed the Beach House with him!
Marcus’ grandparents, Tracey and Steve, say, “As grandparents, being able to join Marcus and enjoy the new things with him with such ease has been an absolute pleasure! This is a place of absolute serenity and functionality for all families.”
We love that the Beach House has a cot that suits Marcus’ needs, the round couch for Marcus to relax in, the beautiful accessible bathtub so he could have a comfortable bath, the wide passages which allowed easy manoeuvrability of the pram and the step-free access in and out of the house. Marcus also had his first train ride and trip to the wildlife park.
12-year-old Charlie has congenital muscular dystrophy, scoliosis and hip dysplasia. For many children like Charlie who use wheelchairs for mobility, finding a place to stay for a family holiday that meets their needs can be challenging.
Charlie’s parents, Jodie and Steven, said, “We don’t plan many family holidays due to difficulty finding suitable and accessible accommodation. To have a house with everything supplied would be really welcome, and a much-needed break for our family.”
Charlie, his parents, and his grandmother stayed at our Laklinyeri Beach House.
Jodie and Steven say, “We loved the house and found all of the facilities so easy, useful and accessible for Charlie in his electric wheelchair.”
“Everything is lovely and the house has a great ambience. We love all the natural light and fresh air.”
“Having all of the equipment options available on-site, and bikes and beach chairs, is so convenient and means you don’t have to bring everything.”
A child’s diagnosis or hospitalisation can often be unexpected and place pressure on families, with parents needing to reduce, or resign from, their means of income to be available through their child’s time of need.
We work in collaboration with the Hospital’s Social Work Service to identify families experiencing hardship due to the impact of their child’s illness. The Programs assist around 130 families a year with items such as emergency transport, accommodation, groceries, utility bills and maintenance of medical equipment to use at home.
Colin Sparrow, Manager, Social Work Services, says, “Access to Family Support Programs can make the difference between a parent being able to spend time with their baby in hospital with the provision of a fuel voucher, the difference between a family being able to stay close to the hospital with the provision of a night’s accommodation, or the difference between keeping the electricity on where a parent has had their income impacted by their child’s hospitalisation.”
Some of the most vulnerable babies in South Australia now have access to coordinated care thanks to our new million-dollar Cocoon Program. This is a dedicated clinic for babies under 12 months who are both medically vulnerable and in foster care, or at risk of entering foster care.
Babies and their caregivers receive support from a specialised team in one clinic rather than caregivers needing to attend multiple appointments on different days. It is hoped that this approach will improve the overall care experience for families and caregivers by meeting an infant’s emotional, physical, and mental health care needs.
To date, 53 babies have benefitted from the program, and this number will grow as the program expands.
Consultant Neonatologist, Dr Amy Keir, says, “The importance of the program is to provide one of the most vulnerable cohorts of babies in South Australia the highest possible coordinated health care in those critical early months of their life.”
I truly hope that through this coordinated approach and our ability to work together with caregivers and other care providers outside of the Hospital, we’re going to help give these vulnerable babies the best possible start in life and to prevent further complexities from developing down the track.
When we think of ‘research’, we often picture a scientist in a lab peering down a microscope – but it can look very different. We funded research that trialled the use of SMS reminders, called ‘nudges’, to encourage flu vaccinations in children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions.
The Flutext-4U project, led by Professor Helen Marshall and carried out by a team of researchers including WCH and SA Health staff, found that the addition of ‘nudges’ to parents helped improve flu vaccination rates in children and adolescents at high risk of severe flu. The authors have now been successful in receiving a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant to co-design ‘nudges’ to improve the uptake of influenza and COVID vaccines in pregnant women.
This project is a great example of how research can lead to simple solutions for big problems, that can easily be embedded into our healthcare system to improve health outcomes and save precious healthcare dollars.
We are currently testing these ‘nudges’ using gold standard methods and if successful these ‘nudges’ could be rolled out across the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, hospitals interstate as well as nationally to protect pregnant women and children and reduce hospitalisation from severe flu.
Infants born too early or too small have a higher risk of developing neonatal sepsis – an infection with potentially devastating consequences. Ensuring treatments for neonatal sepsis are effective and safe means that babies have the best chance to both survive and thrive.
We funded a research project led by Associate Professor Luke Grzeskowiak that explored the current neonatal dosing guidelines for an antibiotic commonly used to treat this infection. The best dosage of this potentially lifesaving antibiotic is a fine balancing act. Too little and it may not effectively treat the infection. Too much and it can become unsafe.
Across Australia, at least five different dosing guidelines are used. By taking the best parts of existing guidelines, the research team has been able to suggest changes to the guidelines used in SA. They hope that one day this work might be the catalyst that leads to consistent national guidelines, so that babies across the country can have the best and safest treatment.
Thank you to our generous community who have ensured we can continue to support our Women’s and Children’s Hospital and its associated Health Network.
Together, we can improve the health and wellbeing of women, children and their families.