Child cancer patients to get better treatment
The first ever public sector ‘treatment’ or ‘sterile’ room in South Africa officially opened its doors at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. This will allow children battling cancer a better chance at recovery.
The state of the art facility and the first ever in a state hospital catering for children with cancer offers quality high-care for much needed patients. This world class service will enable immune-compromised children to stay in isolation for up to three months after surgery. The sterile, also called isolation, room has great benefits for child cancer patients.
‘This means the reduction of air-borne pathogens and patients’ hospitalisation days will be minimised. This is mostly patients with haematological cancers and leukaemia; this is seriously ill patients with low blood counts. Every cancer unit has to have an isolation room in order to isolate patients that are sickly with low blood counts, so we minimise infections. When they are isolated, it’s mainly to protect them from infections that can come in from staff or visitors. We cannot just treat such patients in a normal ward’, says Matron Josephine Phatoli of Pretoria Academic Hospital’s Oncology Department.
The isolation room will accommodate a child and his caregiver for the duration they will be admitted. The room itself is fairly spacious with a bed, sink and television set for the patient – all made to ensure comfort during their stay. Hygiene is very important here. Upon entering, one has to wear plastic to cover their shoes and wash their hands thoroughly. An air filter has been fitted to ensure the air is very clean. The Oncology Department’s Dr David Reynders said the room will help optimise the quality of care that the young patients receive at the hospital.
‘The isolation room offers us the ability to give far more toxic treatment to patients by offering high dose chemotherapy or giving them a new set of stem cells that have been lost. Most children who receive the stem transplant are patients who would essentially die without that sort of treatment. So, its patients whose bone marrow has either failed or filled with disease and those are the people who would benefit the most from the transplant. Up to now this type or level of care has not been made available in state hospitals, so this is something we as a unit worked towards and managed to develop a room to cater for those critical patients’.
Dr Reynders added that the sterile room will improve the outcomes of curing cancer in children.
‘The cure rate in children for cancer is very good and very high compared to adult cancer. You know many people, when they hear of cancer, they think of their short life span and that their people are going to probably die in the next 8 months or so. Most of our patients are cured and go on to live healthy lives’, he said.
The first patient is expected to be admitted in the new isolation room at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in less than two months.