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Feb 8, 2018

Healthy Living Heads to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the K.H.M.H.

There is good news coming out the country’s largest referral hospital, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.  That is that the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is finally in operation. It’s been two years since the official handing over of the completed unit took place. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we find out what caused the delay and what Belizeans can now expect with the specialized care now available.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Before February first of 2018, children who required specialized care were treated in this area sectioned off in the K.H.M.H.’s general pediatric ward. This makeshift space was used to offer the highest level of medical care to very sick children. Although a brand new pediatric unit was completed in 2015, it took over two years for it to finally be put to use. As Director of Nursing Services at the K.H.M.H. explains; as the first ever dedicated pediatric intensive care unit, it took some time to identify the vital resources for the unit – the human resource.


Michelle Hoare

Michelle Hoare, Director of Nursing Services, K.H.M.H.
“The unit was completed some two years ago and handed over to us, and we were successful in opening the Neonatal intensive side of the unit that’s for newborn premies and newborns. For the pediatric intensive care, there was an issue because it was the first of its kind for the hospital and first of its kind of the country and it required its own dedicated set of staff – trained staff nursing and medical staff. So we had to ensure that before launching and expanding the service to another very critical area making three of its kind in the hospital we had to ensure that all other service areas were fully staffed.”


The primary challenge was finding the nurses. Moving over the most experienced nurses to the PICU would mean that replacement nurses would need to be identified. That was the primary cause of the delay. Nurses, like Lucely Gillett, who has over sixteen years of experience at the hospital have now been additionally trained and assigned to PICU.


Lucely Gillett

Lucely Gillett, Acting Unit Manager, K.H.M.H.
“The staff here is very excited. We are all nurses that have been here for a very long time working at the NICU and “Peds” unit so we have a lot of experience under our belt and that is what makes us feel comfortable and prepared to take care of the public. You have an area with more specialized equipment readily available. Nurses, who has more experience, so it’s a new focus where they try to equip us with everything that we would need in an emergency situation.”


The addition of the PICU is crucial in the survival of very sick children.


Michelle Hoare

“The Pediatric intensive care unit is a unit that provides critical care for newborns and children up to the age of fifteen.  They usually require additional support using mechanical ventilators or other forms of support for breathing or to sustain life. So it’s going to be a very specialized area.


Lucely Gillett

“We have the facility to assist them. It’s here. A lot of the public are aware of the fact that we have the neonatal intensive care. That we have helped so many people and then here now we have had a PICU for a while, but this one is more equipped. So with that along with the specialization the nurses and their experience we’re hoping that it will be more successful.”


The PICU is equipped with eight rooms including two isolation rooms. Each room is fully equipped with the technology needed to provide specialized care. Only one patient has utilized the unit since it became operational last week baton average the PICU would serve on average two hundred critically sick children a year. As for the cause of the delay – the nurse shortage – the Matron says it will continue to be an ongoing battle.


Michelle Hoare

“It will continue to be an ongoing challenge. Given the fact that nurses are in demand no matter where you go whether in the private sector or the private sector. IN the region at large, the demand for nurses is always there. We have recruiters that come in from time to time from international agents they look for countries that they know the training is up to standard. So they will seek these countries, and fortunately for us, Belize is one of those countries where the standard of training is high it is comparable. So you find that they target us and how can you compare to the international world.”


For now, the management is happy to have eleven trained nurses to work in the PICU. The unit also boasts comfortable resting areas for parents of the sick children and a playroom.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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