Tygerberg delivers under pressure

09 May 2014 - 02:22 By Kim Cloete
Baby feet. File photo.
Baby feet. File photo.
Image: Thinkstock

Against all the odds, Tygerberg Children's Hospital has a neonatal survival rate on a par with that of hospitals in many wealthy countries.

But though the hospital has made big strides it is facing a dire shortage of beds for premature babies.

"We have 50000 deliveries a year but we have only eight neonatal ICU beds. We should have one bed for every 2000 deliveries," said Professor Gert Kirsten, who recently retired after 20 years of heading the neonatal unit at the hospital.

The rising number of mothers from Eastern Cape going to Cape Town to give birth has put pressure on the hospital and many patients from the new Khayelitsha Hospital are being diverted to Tygerberg.

The Tygerberg Children's Hospital Trust is appealing for funds for more beds and equipment for the hospital, which admits about 16000 babies and children every year.

Kirsten has called for more post-graduate training in neonatal intensive care nursing.

He said many neonatal nurses were at risk of burnout because there were too few of them and many are close to retirement age.

"You need trained, skilled nurses to manage babies who are on ventilators," he said.