BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 27, 2015–The Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the latest addition to the Karl Heusner Memorial, and inaugural ceremonies for the facility were held today. Speeches that noted the significance of the occasion were delivered by Dr. Peter Allen, CEO of the Ministry of Health; Dr. Adrian Coye, CEO of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital; Imani Fairweather-Morrison, Program Officer of the Oak Foundation, and Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children.
Dr. Allen recalled that at one point in the past, up to fifty percent of critically ill “neonate babies” did not survive; however, he noted that today neonatal mortality is down, and he remarked on the better chances for survival that such babies will have as a result of the opening of the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Dr. Coye, in his address, commented, “It is one of the biggest investments, being that it is a game- changer, because it is transforming the landscape of healthcare delivery in a way that will result in a remarkable elevation in the level of care that is to happen here. It is designed for eight pediatric intensive care patients, 23 neonatal intensive care patients and extremely special is the consideration given to the parents.”
Fairweather-Morrison in her speech recalled the day when Simplis-Barrow approached her and requested that the Oak Foundation, which usually invests in marine conservation, consider investing in human capital by making a financial contribution to the building of the pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit. After considering the request and doing their routine evaluation, the Oak Foundation came to a decision to donate $2 million, said Fairweather.
Kim Simplis-Barrow, in her address, said, “I am almost in disbelief that this day is finally here. It has taken years of hard work and the support of countless people, and the journey has been remarkable.”
Simplis-Barrow recalled that it was a tour of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in her capacity as Special Envoy for Women and Children that made her realize that the physical space in which essential medical services were being offered to our children was inadequate. She continued to state that what brought that reality home was seeing a child looking so displaced in an adult ward because there was no room in the children’s ward. She added, “It was obvious that the needs of a growing population had outstripped the capacity of a facility that had been established in the mid-1990s. Twenty-four beds in the pediatric unit were no longer enough.”
Simplis-Barrow noted that making the facility an ideal space that was well-equipped, where hospital staff could ensure the comfort and well-being of infant patients while catering to the needs of the parents, was a very “ambitious undertaking” with an equally “ambitious price tag.” Simplis-Barrow explained the plans, challenges and progress in raising the necessary funds to build the facility and thanked the Oak Foundation, See and Taste Belize and the Belize Social Security Board who were amongst the biggest donors to the construction of the facility, as well as others who made contributions and who sacrificed to make this project a reality.
The Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will become operational by the middle of December 2015, said Tylon Tillett, the KHMH’s Acting Manager of Public Relations.