In 1991 Dr. Richard Ishmael, Cardiologist with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), had a dream to establish a five-bed Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to provide intensive focused care to monitor and treat the most serious conditions of children in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
Out of this initial dream and the consuming passion that drove Dr. Ishmael, Michael Pemberton and a dedicated founding group of “Barkers”, the Barbados chapter of Variety– Tent 73 – was born. The group worked assiduously to raise the necessary $200,000 to start a Variety chapter. After two years of fundraising, a registered charity was formed in 1994, eventually receiving its charter from Variety International in April, 1995. On Tuesday September 16th, 1997, Dr. Ishmael’s dream came to fruition. Variety – Tent 73 was instrumental in funding the majority of equipment for a new four-bed PICU within the Paediatric Unit of the QEH. Now equiped with the only PICU in the region, the QEH could handle emergency admissions for young patients requiring various levels of life support and care for immediate post-operative open heart surgical patients, orthopaedic and neurological patients from Barbados and other Caribbean countries. Over the years the Unit has helped more thousands of children receive life-saving procedures. Variety continues its relationship with the PICU, and is committed to the extended refurbishment and expansion of the Unit.
Therefore the goal is to expand to a 9-bed unit with updated equipment, which will include:
An isolation room
A centrally remote monitors nursing station
Water supply for haemodialysis
Adequate storage for ICU electrical equipment
With the planned expansion, the money raised through Change for Children will enable it to meet a demand of over 300 children per year. Many operations currently have to be done overseas and the majority of Caribbean families simply cannot afford the money for operations to take place locally. The hospital has secured commitment from U.S. doctors who are willing to donate their services without charge, but they cannot do this unless the right equipment is in place.
The Unit currently provides care for critically-ill children from the post neonatal period to age 16 years and supports the post operative/post procedural care of children in other specialties in the hospital such as the Division of Invasive Cardiology, Neurosurgery and Scoliosis Programme. It will provide specialist training in paediatric critical care for post-graduate residents. The Unit will be responsible for all programmes related to training, care and research as they relate to critically-ill children.