When a child is in an accident or suffers a burn injury, they are rushed to the emergency unit of the nearest hospital, where their treatment needs to be prioritised alongside that of every adult in need of urgent care. In most South African casualty wards, there is no distinction between adult and child patients, which greatly disadvantages children who need specialised triage techniques and knowledge, since adult equipment is not designed for tiny bodies.
Having recently completed a Paediatric Burns Outpatient Department at Ngwelezana Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, the Carte Blanche Making a Difference (MAD) Trust stepped in to create a first-of-its kind children’s trauma facility in its third project at Sebokeng Hospital in Gauteng. The two facilities are the result of a combined capital spend of over R32 million, excluding the services of partner professional service providers and innumerable material donations.
The third phase of the development of the Sebokeng Hospital’s Paediatric Emergency Unit seeks to address growing infant mortality rates at the hospital by serving as a point of entry and support to all the children arriving in the hospital as emergencies and will form part of the paediatric services provided at the hospital.
Newly renovated paediatric High Care and Lower High Care beds, along with the new paediatric emergency unit, will help deliver the specialist care and equipment that children need and assist in reducing trauma amongst children sharing space with adult emergency cases. The new facility will also eradicate cross-infections within the hospital emergency centre and greatly improve the quality of care provided to patients and their families and reduce waiting times for the thousands of patients who are treated at the facility each year.
Regional Burns hub
The Ngwelezana Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in its district, with a staff complement of over 1200, serving about 7700 patients per month - including referrals from other hospitals and has a 554-bed capacity. In addition to forming a teaching arm of the University of KwaZulu-Natal by way of the latter’s extended teaching platform, it is the only hospital providing specialist care within the region and the only hospital within UMhlathuze Municipality, meaning that patients must travel between 60km and 300km to access care at Ngwelezana Hospital.
Despite its previous scarcity of paediatric beds, Ngewelezana Hospital has long been the referral centre for children who have suffered burns, and trauma requiring surgery and orthopaedic care. The Paediatric Burns Unit was upgraded in 2019, creating a dedicated, world-class, 22-bed children’s healthcare facility that provided a range of care options from general wards to high care and two Isolation ICU Units.
As part of the second phase, undertaken between 2021 and 2023 – and thanks to an incredible donation of over R14.3 million from South32’s Richards Bay Hillside Aluminium, the Carte Blanche MAD Trust has been able to facilitate the construction of a dedicated Paediatric Burns Outpatient Department, linked to the Inpatient department to provide the full complement of facilities that are required for children who have suffered burns injuries.
The new Paediatric Burns Outpatient Department will offer a booked clinic, Monday to Friday all year around and is intended to treat eight patients per day – four in the morning and four in the afternoon, to help deliver optimal care and treatment.
Helping serve South Africa
Carte Blanche Making a Difference Trust Patron, Karolina Andropoulos, says that the Trust has completed over 22 projects across major public hospitals around the country since it was founded in 2008, benefitting an estimated quarter of a million infants and children. “All of our projects help medical professionals deliver life-saving interventions and treatment to a population in desperate need,” she says. “The Trust, our partners and our incredibly generous sponsors are honoured to be able to turn pockets of need into pockets of service”.
Watch Carte Blanche this Sunday at 19:00 for an insert on the life-saving new paediatric facilities at Ngwelezana and Sebokeng Hospitals.
Catch Carte Blanche every Sunday at 19:00 on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) – The Home of Entertainment. You can also live-stream it on DStv Stream, and watch on DStv Catch Up after the broadcast. Join the conversation on X, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook using the hashtag #CarteBlanche.