Professor of Paediatric Emergency Medicine

Thanks to the Good Friday Appeal, The Royal Children’s Hospital will engage a Professor of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Professor Franz Babl (pictured below), to undertake vital research to improve emergency care.

The RCH’s Emergency Department is Australia’s largest paediatric Emergency Department. Not only does it help sick and injured children, but it also supports world-leading research.

The research will improve emergency care for all children and young people, both at the RCH and beyond. Funding from the Good Friday Appeal will allow the RCH to expand its research into areas including concussion, neck injury, bronchiolitis, acute mental health, bell’s palsy and sepsis.  

“My role as Professor of Paediatric Emergency Medicine has given me an amazing privilege to have a positive impact on the frontline care of many children across many hospitals, rather than looking after just one injured or sick child at a time.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue this important work in the coming years thanks to the support of the Victorian community through the Good Friday Appeal.”

Professor Franz Babl, Professor of Paediatric Emergency Medicine

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Healthy Trajectories: A Child and Youth Disability Research Hub

Children with disability are among the most complex patients at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). This means it is important to develop an innovative and research-based approach when it comes to the management of disability related health and social issues. Thanks to the support of the Good Friday Appeal, the RCH has been able to develop Healthy Trajectories; a child and youth disability research hub at the Melbourne Children’s Campus.

This hub harnesses the strengths of the campus partners to put in place a new vision for children with disability, their families and carers, with the potential for significant Victorian, national and international impact. It aims to increase inclusion and participation for children and young people with disability by targeting potential barriers and inequalities and addressing the research priorities they identify as crucial.

Themes like building a sense of belonging for students with disability and designing learning spaces for diversity, inclusion and participation have been explored through hub research. This interdisciplinary research addresses practice and policy gaps, helping to build a more sustainable National Disability Insurance Scheme and making a life-changing difference to patients.

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Melbourne Children’s Campus Mental Health Strategy

Around 14 per cent of children and young people aged four to 17 years are affected by mental illness over any 12-month period. Even more children may struggle with mental health symptoms, especially if they have an underlying chronic illness.

Ensuring access to mental health prevention and early intervention for this cohort has been an ongoing challenge. The Melbourne Children’s Campus Mental Health Strategy is on a mission to change this and is predicted to impact more than 600,000 children beyond the strategy’s proposed five year period.

The Melbourne Children’s Campus Mental Health Strategy is an ambitious multi-year project that aims to provide a uniform and evidence based approach to mental health prevention, care and advocacy for all children, young people and their families across the Melbourne Children’s Campus, which includes The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics.

Led by Professor Harriet Hiscock (pictured below_ and Belinda Horton, the strategy is ensuring a holistic approach to mental health across the campus.

“One of the objectives of the Strategy is to advocate for and equip staff to see children’s health and wellbeing as integrated physical and mental health, rather than just caring for their medical needs or seeing mental health as being only relevant to children and young people admitted into specialist mental health services.

“Our tag line – ‘mental health is everyone’s business’ – conveys this collective responsibility and our strategy activities have facilitated new conversations about this,” Harriet and Belinda shared.

Both Harriet and Belinda shed light on the pivotal role that engagement with campus stakeholders has played in guiding the strategy towards success. The collaboration with the Steering Committee, and advisory, working and focus groups, has been instrumental in shaping the strategy’s approach to mental health, fostering a collective commitment to its objectives.

“These ‘pockets of awesomeness’ across the campus are about bringing together the people who are already doing exceptional work, to integrate and build on this work and to identify gaps.

It has also been wonderful to equally privilege children, young people and families’ lived experience of mental health and recovery and the lived experience of campus clinicians, researchers, and educators,” they recalled.

With over 100 individuals actively participating in advisory and working groups and many more engaging with strategy communications and activities, Harriet and Belinda shared the significance of this broad engagement across the Melbourne Children’s Campus.

“We have been privileged to work with many people from across the campus from multi-disciplinary backgrounds and the full range of research, education, clinical and non-clinical expertise.

“We see this as a privilege because the contributions of these very busy people have been provided in kind from their commitment to improving research, education and care of the mental health of children, young people and their families,” they shared.

“In line with our initial strategy planning, the final two years will be focused on ensuring that the outputs of each part of the strategy are embedded where they need to be across the campus and embraced by staff and campus leaders,” Harriet and Belinda explained.

Through innovative approaches, collaborative partnerships, and a commitment to inclusivity, the Melbourne Children’s Campus Mental Health Strategy seeks to shape a future where mental health challenges are met with effective, compassionate, and readily accessible support for every child and young person across the Melbourne Children’s Campus.

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Clinical Leader for Trauma, Burns and Surgery Research

Thanks to support from the Good Friday Appeal, The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) will stay at the forefront of trauma care, burns management and surgical research. The RCH is pleased to be able to provide an ongoing role to Associate Professor Warwick Teague (pictured below).

A trailblazer in his field, Warwick plays an important role in trauma, burns and surgery, continuing to develop the RCH as a national and international leader ensuring the RCH can continue to provide the best care to children and young people.

Warwick’s recent achievements include leading the RCH Trauma Service to successfully complete the first of a two-phase project to implement a world class, evidence-based trauma quality improvement program.  

He has continued to grow and develop the RCH Burns Service, supporting recent, strategic staff appointments within surgical, clinical and nursing roles, and encouraging the adoption of new burn treatment technologies.  

Warwick and his co-convener and colleague, Dr Monique Bertinetti, the RCH Burns Service hosted the 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Burn Association, which brought together the brightest and best of the ANZ and regional burn care community to Melbourne in late 2023.  

Warwick produces quality knowledge for the hospital and the community. In the last three years, Warwick has published 35 peer reviewed journal articles and four book chapters. He has also delivered 30 invited presentations to national and international conferences and seminars and made multiple media appearances.

“Thanks to support from the Good Friday Appeal, I am given the permission, as well as the protected time, to dedicate myself to both clinical and research work, which is really special.”
“When I think about the people who give to the Good Friday Appeal each year, knowing my role is one of the things they contribute to, I find it so humbling. I also feel an undeniable sense of gratitude. I don’t even know how to put my thanks into words.”  

Associate Professor Warwick Teague, Director of Trauma, Clinical Leader for Trauma, Burns and Surgery Research, and Academic Paediatric Surgeon

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Barwon Health

From saving babies’ lives thanks to resuscitation training and new video equipment, and increasing patient care and outcomes by using specialised ultrasounds, to upskilling nursing staff in response to a surge in eating disorders, funding will support critically ill children and young people of all ages across the Barwon area.

Purchasing a video laryngoscope

Purchasing a video laryngoscope for the neonatal unit at Southwest Healthcare will allow trainees and junior consultants to improve their skills in intubating premature babies, by allowing other clinicians to watch the procedure via video and provide guidance in real-time. 

Support for eating disorders

Responding to a surge in eating disorders and mental health admissions, which has continued since COVID-19, training will further develop the skills of paediatric nursing staff at Barwon Health and Southwest, ranging from short courses to a graduate certificate in mental health. 

Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) training 

In addition to enabling a broad range of treatments, such as performing lumbar punctures, and checking for collapsed lungs, research shows that POCUS improves patient care by accelerating clinical diagnoses, improving procedural success, and making invasive procedures less painful. With new funding, Barwon Health staff can access the RCH’s POCUS education package, and purchase simulation practice equipment, thereby increasing local skills, and further benefiting the region’s paediatric patients. 

Resuscitation training

Enhancing resuscitation training for neonatal care staff across the region, Barwon Health will purchase training manikins, and procure licenses to deliver the NeoResus training program, which has standardised the teaching of newborn resuscitation in Victoria. NeoResus training will be delivered to staff in Geelong and Warrnambool, who will then deliver the training within their own health service, as well as to smaller services nearby.   

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Grampians Health

Providing care for a catchment area of 250,000 people, Grampians Health requires new state-of-the-art resuscitation, ultrasound and anaesthesia equipment to continue to provide the best care locally for women and babies with high-risk health needs.

Infant Resuscitator Cots

From premature births and labour complications, to low birth-weight babies or those that are very unwell, there are many reasons babies require resuscitator cots, which provide critical breathing support. They are used in the Maternity Unit and Special Care Nursery and in clinical emergencies in the Emergency Department and the Operating Theatre. Funding will allow Grampians Health Ballarat to purchase a new fleet of the latest resuscitator cots, creating consistency across the region, and meaning staff will be trained to use the same equipment, regardless of where they are working. With battery back-up, these cots also allow the safe transportation of critically ill babies to the RCH if required.    

Maternal Ultrasound

Purchasing the latest maternal ultrasound machine will allow more complex scans to be carried out. This will help Grampians Health Ballarat to identify and monitor women who have high-risk pregnancies, including multiple births. This new machine will be an essential tool to ensure babies can continue to be delivered safely and close to home. The purchase will also create consistency across the fleet, ensuring the same care, monitoring and reporting can be offered throughout the region.

Paediatric Anaesthesia 

With a need to replace ageing anaesthesia machines, the purchase of a new machine will optimise patient safety and efficient throughput of the Operating Theatres. Integral to the new anaesthesia machine will be new patient monitoring devices which will align theatre patient monitoring with all acute care departments throughout the hospital, including the Children’s Ward, allowing for better workflow without the loss of vital signs monitoring. This also future-proofs electronic medical record (EMR) integration by standardising patient monitoring.

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Bendigo Health

From building an all abilities rehab playground co-designed by clinicians and patients, to prioritising learning and development initiatives across nursing, allied health and intensive care, new funding will foster fun and creative play as an enabler of improved patient experiences and outcomes, while also helping to attract and retain highly qualified staff across the Loddon Mallee region.

Kids Rehab Play Space

Recognising that play assists rehabilitation, helps learning, and fosters connections between clinicians, siblings and peers, Bendigo Health will build an all abilities, outdoor, natured-based paediatric rehab playground at the hospital site. Co-designed by clinicians in collaboration with their patients and community, the playground concepts are complete, and building is ready to commence. Having kick-started fundraising within the local community, the hospital now seeks the final funding required to commence work on this innovative, patient-centred playground.

Paediatric staff scholarship and specialist training program

With a commitment to attracting and retaining highly qualified and passionate clinical and allied health professionals, Bendigo Health will offer learning and development initiatives across nursing, allied health and intensive care. Programs include providing RCH training for allied health professionals onsite in Bendigo, piloting a nurse educator role to support the growth of paediatric training, and enabling regional staff to access intensive care training onsite at the RCH.   

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Hume – Goulburn Valley Health and Albury Wodonga Health

Goulburn Valley Health

New funding will enable children to receive highly-specialised, life-saving respiratory care within the Goulburn Valley for the first time, thanks to new equipment and training. Funding will also be used to create two part-time emergency nurse practitioner roles, support scholarships, and upskill staff delivering Hospital in the Home care, thereby keeping more children out of hospital, and servicing increased demand.

Respiratory support equipment and training – At present, children requiring critical respiratory support, such as high flow oxygen treatment, cannot receive the specialist care they need in the Goulburn Valley. New equipment, such as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, will build capacity to deliver this support within the region, while RCH training will build local capability. Importantly, this will allow children to stay in their own communities, while also reducing the risk of deterioration during hospital transfers. 

Paediatric nursing scholarship – Four scholarships will be offered to broaden the specialisations covered by Goulburn Valley Health’s Educator role. The scholarships, which will provide RCH training, will be offered to Goulburn Valley Health nursing staff across a range of teams, such as the Emergency Department, Operating Suite, Special Care Nursery and Child Adolescent Unit. 

Strengthening nursing care in the emergency department – Start-up funding will cover up to two part-time paediatric emergency nurse practitioner roles to be created for Goulburn Valley Health’s Emergency Department. These roles will draw on the support of the RCH by accessing its education packages, and by seconding more RCH nurse practitioners to Goulburn Valley Health’s Emergency Department, thereby fostering professional development and enabling peer-to-peer learning onsite regionally. 

Improving capability for Hospital in the Home(HITH)care – Despite an increase in demand, Goulburn Valley Health’s Hospital in the Home (HITH) service is currently restricted to two days per week. By offering more training to provide services such as managing catheter access, which supports long-term antibiotic therapies, more children can be treated at home, increasing their comfort, and freeing up hospital beds for more complex care. 

Albury Wodonga Health

The funding will allow us to establish a Paediatric Hospital In The Home Program, invest in advanced medical equipment including an ultrasound machine for paediatric echocardiograms and a polysomnograph for sleep studies, and enhance our workforce training and upskilling initiatives. Ultimately, it will allow us to provide comprehensive, family-centered care to children in our region, ensuring they receive the support and treatment they need to thrive’’

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Latrobe Regional Health

From upskilling staff to create Gippsland’s first neurodevelopment outpatients’ clinic, and purchasing new equipment to detect and manage eye disease, through to increasing the capability of nursing staff by purchasing specialised training equipment and offering RCH secondments, funding will change and save the lives of Gippsland children, in particular by allowing early detection and management of a range of conditions.  

Allied health scholarships – neurodevelopment – A number of new scholarships will enable Grade 2 Allied Health workers to develop the skills and specialisations needed to establish Gippsland’s first neurodevelopment outpatient clinic. Offering assessments and therapies locally will avoid the need to travel for specialist care, and will assist in the early detection of neurodevelopmental problems, such as autism spectrum disorder, and vision and hearing problems, thereby helping to avoid the adverse learning and development outcomes which are often seen in children receiving later diagnoses.   

Purchase of RETCAM (retinal scanning camera, neonatal) – By taking digital photos of the structures inside the eye, RETCAMs allow clinicians to scan for and manage eye disease. Purchasing a RETCAM for the region, and providing training to use it, will not only save children travelling long distances for regular testing, but will also increase regional capacity and reduce waiting times for patients. 

Capital works and equipment – In addition to improving the experience of paediatric patients in the emergency department and other wards, by upgrading play equipment and completing minor capital works, funding will also focus on upskilling the region’s paediatric nurses, by providing relevant paediatric training, purchasing simulation training equipment, and enabling secondments to the RCH.

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Dame Elisabeth Nursing Development Scholarship

Thanks to funds collected by the RCH Auxiliaries for the Good Friday Appeal, the $50,000 scholarship allows one outstanding nurse to develop skills and experience by exploring innovative practices and models of care across Australia and internationally. 

Dame Elisabeth generously gave her name in perpetuity in support of this scholarship and the advancement of nursing at the RCH.

2022 Scholarship Recipient

Congratulations to Eloise Borello, the 2022 recipient of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship.

Eloise is a highly skilled clinical nurse consultant who has been caring for sick children at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) since 2010. She will use the scholarship to improve the current model of treatment for children across the hospital requiring intravenous access, a delicate and often traumatising procedure that can also lead to complications.

Eloise began her career as an adult oncology nurse before transitioning into paediatric oncology, working in both Kookaburra and Kelpie wards at the RCH. In 2017, Ella moved into the Quality and Improvement Department as a Clinical Nurse Consultant, specialising in vascular access.

Vascular access can mean different things, however for this project it refers to the process of inserting a device into a patient’s vein to deliver medical treatment. The most used device is called a peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC), which is a thin plastic tube which is inserted into a vein using a needle.

“Around 50 per cent of all children admitted to the RCH will require a PIVC. While the use of the device is common, they are notoriously difficult to insert and maintain in children, which often leads to complications,” said Eloise.

“There are a lot of factors that play into this, but one reason is because children have small and fragile veins which can make it more difficult to insert the device, often resulting in multiple insertion attempts which can make the experience incredibly daunting for young children and their families.”

“While working at the RCH, I have seen firsthand the challenges involved in inserting PIVCs into a child’s vein and the negative effect that it can have on them, which is why I am passionate about ensuring patients have access to the treatment they require with no complications or harm, so they can get back to having a happy and healthy childhood,” she added.

With the support of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, Eloise will audit the current practice in real time, which will allow her to look at the challenges involved in the process. As part of this, she will engage clinical staff and patient families to share their experiences to help provide more insight into the best way forward.

The scholarship will also allow Eloise to seek new knowledge around peripheral vascular access by consulting with leaders in the field, both locally and internationally. The end goal is to develop a best practice recommendation for vascular access at the RCH, ensuring the hospital become global leaders in the area.

“I am beyond grateful to receive this scholarship, and I am so grateful to the RCH Auxiliaries, RCH Foundation and BankVic for giving me and many others this opportunity. By providing this scholarship, you are providing more than a one-off opportunity, you are investing in the future of nurses and allowing us to create a different future for children, one that is better,” said Eloise.

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