The Paediatric & Neonatal Intesive Care Unit
Providing optimal care for the unique needs of critically ill paediatric and neonatal patients, best occurs in an intensive care unit specifically designed for that purpose. Although the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) is the national referral hospital for the children of Belize, it did not have a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The unfortunate result was that there were children struggling to recover from regular childhood illnesses that hinder their development due to a lack of treatment options; children with cancer and others needing tertiary care who have to travel hundreds of miles at catastrophic costs that, in many instances, are far greater than their families’ income and cannot be sustained.
Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow took up task of bridging this major gap in Belize’s healthcare system and was able to secure funding for the construction and equipping of a new wing at the KHMH to house. The newly-completed Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has been her most ambitious endeavor to date. Over 11,000 square feet, the facility comes with child friendly design features, accommodations for parents and state of the art equipment to care for critically children and babies. After years of fundraising and with support from major international donors, the PICU/NICU is now completed and becomes operational in April 2016, moving Belize into a new era of improved healthcare for the country’s youngest citizens.
Based on epidemiological profiling and forecasting of usage, the PICU now has six designated Units for older children. The NICU has three levels of care intensity: levels one and two with seven units each and level three with six units. There are four isolation units with special ventilation systems and other features, which are visible from the nursing station. All 30 beds have flat wall consoles with gases, vacuum and facilities for life support equipment. An additional feature is the capacity to increase the bed status in the NICU during an emergency or disease outbreak; each console can actually accommodate another bed and ventilator. Other features include a playroom, blood bank, laboratory, pharmacy and respiratory therapy room as well as administrative offices, a conference room, a training room and staff lounges.
This impressive air-conditioned medical facility is one of a kind in Belize with special design considerations given to making it child friendly and ensuring the comfort of families who must remain near their hospitalized children without interrupting the flow of medical and nursing services in an area of high intensity care and equipment use. Lounges, bathrooms, sleeping facilities and a kitchen are some of the unique features of the PICU/NICU. Families also have access to three internet stations so that they can easily communicate with families and conduct review of literature on their child’s condition. Mothers recovering from C-Section deliveries and breastfeeding mothers will be delighted to discover that apart from the comfort of rest areas and lounges, a designated breastfeeding room will be available to them.