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Tour of Monash Childrens Hospital

Since announcing a $1.8 million philanthropic grant to the Monash Childrens Hospital (MCH) in 2017, this funding has made a remarkable impact, including enabling the purchase of equipment that has significantly improved the quality of life for hundreds if not thousands of children across Victoria.

Recently, a group of FFV Directors, staff and Monash Gully District Freemasons were invited to tour the hospital and hear from its team how this gift has impacted the care of babies and children in Victoria.

One of two Childrens hospitals in Victoria, MCH services the south and east of the state, accounting for approximately one third of Victoria’s children, with 40,000 patients admitted annually. And with 75,000 babies and children presenting to the Emergency Department annually, it’s the busiest ED in the country! Monash Health also provides services at Casey, Dandenong and Sandringham hospitals.

The Hospital boasts newborn and oncology departments, the state’s only sleep centre, and only foetal surgery service. There’s a special care nursery, mental health centre and schooling, which, while it isn’t meant to replace traditional schooling, means patients can continue their education while admitted and can be aided in transitioning back into their own school. Some wonderful partnerships enrich childrens’ stays, including the hospital radio station ‘Radio Lollipop’ and a Hoyts beanbag cinema showing movies twice a day, equipped with a platform for beds. One of the first things you find upon entering the MCH foyer is the Disney ‘Imaginaire’ designed Moose Imagination Tree (pictured below).

The tour included a rare look at some state-of-the-art technology, beginning with the award-winning imaging department, home to an MRI scanner and play therapy service to help young children cope with an MRI scan. Since this program has been in place, the success rate of MRIs at MCH has increased from 40% to 80 – 90% - and they are able to largely avoid anaesthetics.

Left: The interactive baby MRI that acts as a first step in education for children.

Right: Radiographer Kenny Aujlia Explains the next stage in the child’s MRI journey. A practise run prepares them for the noise, lights and other sensations of undergoing the scan.

Above: This portable RetCam Digital Imaging system was funded by FFV, so that the most preventable blinding complications for premature babies can be identified across all Monash Health nurseries, including at Dandenong and Casey Hospitals.

Above: The Forest Ward is a 16 bed ward, with room for parents. Rebecca Ralphs, Nurse Unit Manager (pictured right) said that children are admitted here for a range of issues and spend anywhere from 2-3 hours to months in Forest Ward.

The ‘SIMS’ room was a highlight of the tour. In this room, MCH staff can practice and train in surgical skills and in working as a team, testing situations to deal with potential scenarios with no patient risk. There’s special laparoscopic training equipment that some had a go at, and the Hospital wants to grow this space further to increase opportunities for professional development.

Above: The state-of-the-art simulation room. Lower right – Dipak Sanghvi, Chair, Monash Health Board practising his laparoscopic surgery skills.

Following the tour, doctors and staff told the group about current work and the importance of the MCH services.

Dani Smith, Monash Children’s Hospital General Manager shared a particular interest of hers - the Hospital at Home program, which the hospital is looking to grow. It provides the same level of tertiary service that’s in the hospital but in the home, for children with complex medical care needs.

Associate Professor Atul Malhotra, Monash Newborn gave us a rundown of his current and recent work in stem cells and cell therapies. The part time neonatologist has been at Monash University for 19 years, and is part of the ‘Neuroprotection Group’.

Dr Alice Stewart, Medical Director Monash Newborn spoke about the uniqueness of their perinatal care.

“This is the only perinatal and surgical NICU in Victoria. By having colocation with Monash University and The Ritchie Centre we can ensure we truly do have expertise in both benchtop and bedside practises.”

‘With so many sites it means we can keep babies and families together. And while we have four sites, we consider ourselves very much a team in all we do.”

“We walk with families and support them and what lies at the heart of that is ensuring that we provide the very best care and supporting that with research and state of the art technology.”

In the weeks following the visit, King David Lodge presented a further $8,500 to Monash Childrens Hospital for additional equipment for the simulation room.

“Freemasons are a cornerstone in terms of the support we have received. Through your donation and your work with us you’ve impacted tens of thousands of children.”

- Ron Fairchild, Director Monash Health Foundation


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