By Zahraa Schroeder
With new shiny equipment, research facilities and loads of light and colour, the newly upgraded Oncology-Haematology Unit at Red Cross Children’s Hospital was finally revealed to the public on Thursday. Dr Anita Parbhoo, the Medical Services Manager of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, excitedly welcomed the audience to the reveal of the long-awaited project. She touched on the need for the upgrade and the struggle that went into making it a success.
Chairman of the Children’s Health Trust, Randall Titus, stunned the audience with the amount of money collected – over R13 million rand raised in honour of the upgrades. He beamed as he added that every cent went into making the unit a warmer and kinder place for its patients. Working within in budget and within the given time period, the upgraded unit stands testament to not just working harder, but smarter.
Working in the unit can be crazy at times, but the staff promise to do it all whilst trying to have fun, ensured Professor Alan Davidson, Head of the Red Cross
In this way, we hope to improve the patient and staff experience, and we are making patients safer by adding more robust infection control. In addition, we are looking to the future by expanding our capacity for transplantation and cancer research. He thanked the countless list of volunteers, and passionate medical practitioners who dedicated their time and ideas to making the upgrade a success
“It’s important to reflect that we started many years ago in an area one quarter the size of our current unit and managed ably with excellent results. A salutary reminder that it’s the people who matter first and last. But it sure helps to operate in a conducive environment and that is true for both patients and staff,” said Prof Davidson.
“In this way, we hope to improve the patient and staff experience, and we are making patients safer by adding more robust infection control. In addition, we are looking to the future by expanding our capacity for transplantation and cancer research.”
Davidson pointed out to the number of butterfly decorations littered across the room. It symbolises the beauty and majesty that comes after struggle, that no matter how hard the process may be, the product makes it all worthwhile.
Cameras rushed to the front as the next guest speaker took the stage with her mom. Little six-year old Mikah Saunders stood before the audience, clutching the microphone and gave a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone involved in making her feel better as a cancer patient. Dorinda Saunders explained that when Mikah was diagnosed with cancer, she felt worried and scared. In an emotional speech she thanked the supportive staff who were always there for her. Listening to her, being a shoulder to cry on and showing her strength during the difficult times.
After a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, Professor Davidson gave a tour of the upgraded facilities. The first were three isolation rooms that are used to keep possible infections and contagions under control. Patients who have recently undergone a transplant operation were kept in these rooms, adding that five to ten transplant operations were performed in Cape Town, but hope to increase that number with the upgraded facilities.
Situated at the end of the hallway, the staff room has been fitted with large windows, lockers for personal belongings and sofas facing the green garden outside.
Davidson said that previously, the staff room would be situated very far from the patients’ room, making responses to urgent calls very difficult. Now within earshot of the rooms, medical staff will be able to reach patients almost immediately.
One aspect that Davidson was extremely excited about was the upgrades to the garden, especially the labyrinth. He said that by having a safe and calming outdoors area, patiently can take walks to soothe their mind and rejuvenate themselves in the sun.
Dr Matodzi Mukosi, the chief executive officer of the hospital, said that the aesthetics were designed with the children in mind because when going through a dark time in trying to beat cancer, it is important to be in an enlivening place.