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A donated machine means that babies rushed to Hutt Hospital’s Emergency Department in respiratory distress can receive timely and more comfortable treatment.

ED Charge Nurse Steph Beddis says the latest model Fisher and Paykel 950 high-flow humidifier enables air or oxygen to be delivered to babies at 37 degrees, a temperature they can more easily tolerate.

“Through nasal prongs the air or oxygen gets down to the lungs’ alveoli, and allow oxygenation and carbon dioxide gas exchange.”

“At present we have high air-flow machines for older children and adults but they are not suitable for small babies because the flow rates are too high, and the air temperatures lower than is comfortable for their tiny nasal passages.”

Mrs Beddis says around 15,000 children present at Hutt Hospital’s ED every year and a significant number have respiratory-related conditions, including infections such as sepsis, or bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis is a viral infection which can be made worse by damp homes and close living conditions.

“The parents are often really scared because they’ve been trying to cope at home for a day or two before they come in. The babies can be breathing very fast on arrival and some can be on the verge of respiratory arrest (breathing stops).”

“I saw a need for a humidifier suitable for babies to be available in our Emergency Department so they could get optimum treatment straight away, to stabilise breathing before their transfer to the children’s ward.

That’s when Stephen Wilkinson stepped in. He volunteers as a member of Friends of the Emergency Department and in the past has raised money for books and toys for the Tree Hutt children’s distraction therapy initiative that Steph Beddis spearheads at the hospital.

“I’m an AMP advisor in my day job and a lot of my fellow advisors around the country support the Centrus Trust,” Mr Wilkinson says.

“Long story short, Centrus accepted my request for the $3,500 needed for the 950 air-flow device for the Hutt. It’s very satisfying to witness how much of a difference it makes for very sick babies and their families.”

This excellent outcome is exactly the kind of initiative taken up by the Hutt Hospital Foundation Trust, another major supporter of Steph Beddis’ Tree Hutt initiative. The Trust is all about raising community awareness and funds to support equipment for patient comfort and care, as well as training for staff, that the hospital’s budget can’t stretch to.

“Patients and families who are grateful for the high standard of care delivered by our hospital and its staff can show their support in a tangible way, with a donation or bequest,” Foundation Trust chair Tony Stallinger says.

Find out more about the Trust at http://www.hhft.org.nz/

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