June 22, 2017

Patient Monitoring Systems: How Your Donations Keep Patients like Darren Alive

Just how important is it to support funding for pediatric medical equipment needs in Saskatchewan? 15-year-old Darren and his family can answer that.

Though it started out as a bad headache, it didn’t take long for Darren to become extremely ill after experiencing what he thought was the flu. Falling ill without warning was a fearful shock for his family as he was airlifted to Regina General Hospital and immediately admitted. This was no ordinary headache.

“We had no clue what was happening,” says Darren’s father Chad. “It’s hard to tell how bad a headache really is for your child, or what it could mean.”

A CT scan revealed a serious sinus infection that required immediate transport to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Saskatoon. He then underwent three brain surgeries and spent over 30 days in a hypothermic induced coma. Taking things one day at a time, there was no certainty that Darren would pull through. The infection had spread to his brain and the fear set in further as his family learned he would likely wake up with 60 per cent paralysis on one side and permanent brain damage. With Darren hanging on by a thread, it was essential to have his vital signs monitored second-by-second. Without close observations of his status, Darren could have slipped away in the blink of an eye.

While every single room in the 176-bed Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital will need a patient monitoring system, the PICU on the second floor will need 45 units alone. The monitors are a crucial way for nurses and medical staff to quickly obtain accurate vital sign measurements. Overseeing blood pressure measurements, heart rate and respiration is essential in order to properly care for critically ill or injured patients like Darren.

“The monitors allow us to keep track of any changes and make quick and informed decisions based on what we see”, says Amanda Dumont, Manager of Nursing of the PICU. “Speedier healing and recovery often results as we are able to adjust treatment for the patient.”

The patient monitors provide fast real-time physiological information and also have built-in alarms that sound when one or more parameters go outside the normal range, allowing medical staff to be made fully aware of when adjustments need to be made. In addition, when a patient is up and mobile, the monitor will go with them to ensure that they continue to be monitored every second.

“Things changed in a matter of minutes,” says Chad. “It didn’t matter what stage of recovery he was at, his vital signs were always being checked. Any time Darren showed a response, the staff knew exactly what was happening and devoted every minute of their shift to being fully aware and attentive.”

Darren is living proof of why patient monitors in the PICU are particularly needed. There was a chance that the athlete from Indian Head would not have made it without the quick and informed decisions made by medical staff. Today, he is 90 per cent recovered and only needs one more procedure in Saskatoon.

“Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation has committed to raising $3.8 million to equip every patient room at the new hospital with state-of-the-art monitoring systems that cost upwards of $35,000 each,” says Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “With doors to our new provincial hospital opening in less than two years, we have a limited time to reach our goal. A donation towards one of these vital machines will help save the lives of young patients like Darren.”

After Darren’s experience, his family recognized just how important it is to have state-of-the-art technology in the PICU and how it truly can be life-saving. They made a $3,000 donation to support equipment and critical care needs in the PICU in honour of Darren and as a way of ensuring future patients receive the best care possible.

Thank you for raising funds to help patients like Darren, and thank you to Darren’s family for demonstrating ‘pay it forward’ to the PICU after a frightening season in Darren’s life!

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