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New equipment a big win for little ones

LOCAL babies and children will benefit from the latest fundraising effort that has made it possible for state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment to be purchased for Mildura Base Hospital.

A Paediatric Vascular Ultrasound Probe is now ready for use – not only will the small, hockey stick-shaped probe reduce the distress children can go through during cannula insertion, it may also reduce the need for children to travel to Adelaide or Melbourne for insertion of longer term intravenous lines when they need treatment for more than a few days.

And it is all thanks to a new partnership between the Almond Board of Australia and Heartbeat Victoria Sunraysia.

“This probe makes it significantly easier for clinicians to scan and access the small veins and arteries of babies and children who need treatment,” explained Mildura Base Hospital’s clinical nurse consultant Greg Plummer.  

“With this equipment, we can improve the first-time attempt success rate of cannula insertions, which is good news for everyone.”

Greg Plummer

The purchase of the probe was made possible by the Almond Board of Australia’s Murray to Moyne cycling team, which raised more than $10,000 through completing the event in 2019 and completing a “virtual” event in 2020. The cycling team was made up of people in the almond industry and associated support services.

Almonds are widely regarded as being good for heart health, so the Almond Board decided to donate the money raised to Heartbeat Victoria Sunraysia to purchase cardiovascular equipment for the hospital. 

When Heartbeat approached the hospital to see what equipment was needed, Greg and three of the hospital’s Paediatricians had recently attended a vascular access workshop at Monash Children’s Hospital and witnessed a Paediatric Vascular Ultrasound Probe being used. They were impressed by what it could do and felt this would be the perfect addition to the hospital’s vascular access equipment. 

“We really appreciate the generosity and support of both Heartbeat and the Almond Board – we can’t thank them enough,” Mildura Base Hospital’s Head of Paediatrics Dr Hariprakash said.

“And the timing is perfect – with our new, standalone Paediatric ward under construction and due for completion in September, now we will have this beautiful new equipment as well.”

The probe is much smaller than the type used on adults and is shaped to transfer the weight away from the area being scanned to reduce the flattening of tiny veins. The shape of the probe’s handle also means the operator’s hand does not get in the way of needle insertion.

The acquisition of the probe has also prompted the introduction of longer cannulas, or ‘long lines’, when children need treatment for more than a few days.

“Long lines are inserted using the ultrasound probe and go into veins that you cannot feel or see in the upper arm area, allowing for treatment to be delivered to a child for a week to ten days,” Dr Hariprakash said. 

“Without these longer lines, a drip would have to be inserted two or three times over that period to deliver the treatment required.”

The introduction of longer lines could also mean fewer local children are transferred to hospitals in capital cities to receive treatment longer than a few days.

“In the past, some children have had to be transferred to Melbourne or Adelaide to facilitate insertion of a longer term intravenous access because we didn’t have the ultrasound probe here to be able to insert longer lines and deliver that treatment,” Dr Hariprakash said.

“Now we are in a position to provide this care and that’s very important to us and to children’s families.”

Dr Hariprakash

For Heartbeat Victoria Sunraysia Treasurer Gail Newton, this is an important step forward.

“To have to consider flying to Melbourne or Adelaide for your child to be treated is extremely distressing, as well as being costly and causing lots of upheaval in a family, so to potentially remove that stress for local families is really rewarding,” she said.

For Almond Board of Australia Chief Executive Officer Ross Skinner, the purchase of the new probe is a big win for the local community.

“To have added this asset to the hospital is fabulous and hopefully it will help local children get the treatment they need,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to see the almond industry support the community in such a practical and useful way.”

Ross Skinner, Almond Board of Australia CEO

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Pictured (L-R):  Mildura Base Hospital’s clinical nurse consultant Greg Plummer, Almond Board of Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Ross Skinner, Head of Paediatrics Dr Hariprakash, and Heartbeat Victoria Sunraysia Treasurer Gail Newton with the new Paediatric Vascular Ultrasound Probe.

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