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Middlemore’s National Burns Centre ‘short’ on equipment

Middlemore’s National Burns Centre ‘short’ on equipment needed to treat Whakaari/White Island victims, fundraising chief says

Middlemore Hospital’s National Burns Centre is “short” on two machines, ranging in cost from $25,000 to $70,000, needed to rehabilitate victims of last Monday’s eruption at Whakaari/White Island.

Middlemore Foundation on Thursday issued a public plea for donations to fund the burns centre. The request is now being considered by the Government, Health Minister David Clark has confirmed.

Foundation chief executive Sandra Geange said the Middlemore’s National Burns Centre was “short on a couple of pieces of equipment” needed to treat patients during medium-to-long term rehabilitation.

“It’s a significant short term and medium-to-long term need that’s here,” she said.

The first bit of equipment was a Sonosite ultrasound machine, which cost between $60,000 to $70,000.

A $25,000 MEEK mesher, a specialised skin graft machine, was also needed.

“They make a huge difference in terms of the efficiency and success outcomes for skin grafts,” Geange said.

“They’ve got one in the … National Burns Unit and they probably could do with two, or maybe even three.”

Donations would also be used to fund items for patient use, such as iPads, Geange said.

Despite Geange saying the burns unit was short on equipment, National Burns Service coordinator Tracey Perrett said while public generosity was “appreciated”, the burns centre had enough equipment to meet clinical needs.

Geange was asked whether the Minister of Health had been approached to help fund the equipment needed to treat eight patients with severe burns who remained at Middlemore.

“The DHB have had discussions with the Minister of Health, and I know that the ministry will be coming in to support this as well,” she said.

“I think the Government are certainly coming to the party from what I hear, and that’s something that Counties Manukau Health are doing.

“But there will always be a shortfall and there are many that have been supportive of … the National Burns Centre.”

In a statement, Health Minister Clark said additional funding to support Counties Manukau DHB’s care of patients was “certainly something the Government will be looking at”.

Geange said said severe burns sufferers were often effectively patients for life.

As out patients, they could be back in the hospital for treatment every two weeks, she said.

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