30 March 2023
Southampton Children’s Hospital has reopened its paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) after a £1.5 million refurbishment.
The world-class facility now boasts five state-of-the-art isolation cubicles that will be used to treat the south’s most critically ill children.
Enhanced infection prevention measures continue to be a priority post-Covid and are a key feature of the project.
Among the developments are a new ventilation system, the installation of aluminium screens, motorised blinds and new flooring.
The unit also now has integrated hand wash stations, and each cubicle is fitted with double glazed aluminium doors.
Doctors and nurses played a key role in the design of the 475m2 facility which is the sixth largest in the UK and is the lead centre for paediatric intensive care in south central England.
The unit treats around 800 children every year, from birth to 18, with severe life-threatening conditions ranging from serious infections to injuries from major accidents.
The expansion now means life-saving treatment can be delivered under one-roof, with new specialist equipment sitting within the unit to enhance the speed at which treatment and care can be given.
This includes a specially designed double-isolation cubicle featuring a new piece of kit known as the Getinge Moduevo Bridge – a space-saving unit that houses medical supplies for nurse stations, monitors and ventilation machines.
The bridge is fixed to the ceiling and covers each bedside area, freeing up valuable floor space to store equipment, keep cables off the floor and improve access to patients.
The extra space means that up to two patients can be treated in the room at any one time, such as patients with the same infections that need to be isolated, or even family members.
This streamlines workflow and improves efficiency and productivity. The room can also be turned into an emergency operating theatre at speed when required.
One such circumstance is when patients require ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation), a lifesaving treatment to support babies and children with severe heart or lung failure (as seen in COVID).
This is an expanding service ensuring patients can be treated locally rather than having to be moved to London or Glasgow. To support this expansion the Friends of PICU charity have purchased a new ECMO machine for the PICU.
Freya Pearson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at University Hospital Southampton, said: “The renovation of this unit is a proud moment for the Trust and our charity partners who have helped fund this amazing project.
“We are already leading the way in delivering world-class care including cardiac, neurological, spinal and neonatal surgery, as well as major trauma treatment.
“This refurbishment and the first-class facilities it brings with it will enable us to continue to deliver the highest standards of care and ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.”
She added: “I’d like to thank all the staff who help us run this amazing service and hope this new facility will enable them to keep doing what they do best.”
As well as the new infrastructure the unit has also taken delivery of a new central monitoring system and more specialist medical equipment.
The project was partly funded with the help of charities Friends of PICU, The Murray Parish Trust and Southampton Hospitals Charity.
Kerry Houghton, Operations Manager at Friends of PICU, said: “Friends of PICU are absolutely thrilled to have made such a valuable contribution to the renovation of the paediatric intensive care unit.
“The addition of the cubicle lighting, ceiling and wall picture tiles improves the environment, the central monitoring system enhances care and the ECMO machine improves this new service; all things we are delighted to help with.
“This support by the charity has only been possible due to the incredible donations we receive from our wonderful supporters, and we are so very grateful to everyone.”
Sarah Parish and Jim Murray of The Murray Parish Trust said: “PICU is a unique critical care environment, as each patient has an accompanying parent who is not only being exposed to a highly stressful and emotional time, but also at risk of contracting and transmitting infections to both their child and other patients and families on the ward.
“These new isolation rooms will reduce the risk of infection for both parents and children and give them the privacy they deserve during the most traumatic time of their lives and we’re so thrilled to have been able to support with their funding as a result of our successful Hares of Hampshire campaign in summer 2022.
“We know from our personal experience with Ella-Jayne that these new additions to PICU will make a huge difference to families on the ward.”
Ellis Banfield, Southampton Hospitals Charity Director, said: “As the hospital charity, one of our key aims is to enhance the hospital environment for patients and their families, and we’re proud to have contributed to this important and vital project. We understand how hard it is for parents to be in PICU, and we hope that the transformation of the unit makes the time spent with their loved ones that much more calming and comfortable.”