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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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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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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Clinician Scientist Fellowships

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) attracts the best medical minds from across the world to create a brighter future for children’s healthcare. Thanks to the Good Friday Appeal, the Clinicians Scientist Fellows are being supported to focus on vital research to find new cures, treatments and medications for the biggest health problems facing children.

In any one year there are about 20 fellows at various stages of their five year fellowship.

Professor Rick Leventer is one of the current Clinician Scientist Fellows. As a paediatric neurologist, Rick sees patients with all types of neurological disorders and has particular research interests in genetic diseases of the central nervous system that affect how the brain develops during pregnancy and in the first years of life.

“Before the fellowship, I was doing most of my research in my spare time and after hours as it was a struggle to find the time to do it effectively whilst trying to balance all of my clinical duties,” said Rick.

The face of the 2021 Appeal Malu has epilepsy

Thanks to your support of the Good Friday Appeal, Rick is able to further his work as both a clinician and scientist with protected time to focus on his research. Through the Clinician Scientist Fellowship, Rick is able to offer patients and families seen in his neuro-genetic clinic, including those with epilepsy, the opportunity to be part of research on early brain development, making direct impact on his patient’s care.

Part of Rick’s research involves analysing the brain tissue collected during a hemispherectomy – a surgery to disconnect or remove parts of the brain that are causing seizures – to find the cause of epilepsy.

“With the parent’s permission, some of the brain tissue that is removed is saved and snap frozen in the operating theatre. We then take it directly to the laboratory for genetic and microscopic analysis where we try and understand why the brain may have developed abnormally to cause seizures.”

Through the fellowship, Rick and his team have already made some exciting breakthroughs, including identifying specific nerve cells that carry a genetic error which trigger epileptic seizures. This has been a significant finding not only for medical professionals, but also to help families understand the cause of their child’s condition.

Rick’s discoveries are also important for the future of children’s health, creating opportunities for further research into precision medicine to target the genetic error and guide the best surgical approaches aimed at the smallest amount of tissue necessary to control seizures.

Rick is one of 20 fellows at the RCH who are able to mentor younger clinicians interested in research.

“The funds put in to support one clinician scientist are actually multiplied many times by the influence we can have on other researchers on campus,” said Rick.

Thanks to the support from the Good friday Appeal, clinician scientists at the RCH have dedicated time to advance the care of sick children in Victoria and beyond.

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Point-of-care Ultrasound Program

POCUS empowers clinicians to conduct ultrasounds at a patient’s bedside, rather than a medical imaging specialist or sonographer. POCUS will be used to answer specific clinical questions to assist clinicians in decision-making as they gather information on the patient including their medical history and physical examinations.

Research increasingly shows that POCUS programs can hasten clinical diagnosis, inform the clinician about ordering subsequent medical imaging, make invasive procedures less painful, improve procedural success, improve patient flow, and increase patient satisfaction.

To support the new POCUS program, new ultrasound machines have been acquired for use around the hospital. These ultrasound machines will enable direct integration with hospital technology and will ensure each department has the equipment they need to implement POCUS.

Once successfully implemented, POCUS will decrease the demand for Medical Imaging appointments and improve the care clinicians can provide to their patients.

Posted June 2018
Image: RCH Melbourne – Creative Service Photography

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Allied Health and Nursing Education

The vital element of great care is finding and fostering exceptional people. Thanks to a $3.26 million donation through the Good Friday Appeal, RCH staff are advancing their clinical skills through ongoing education and development.

These funds directly benefit Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and nurses, who make up over half of The Royal Children’s Hospital staff and collectively care for children, adolescents and their families across all areas of the hospital.

This investment in The Royal Children’s Hospital team ensures the hospital attracts and retains the best and brightest minds, and remains a centre of excellence in paediatric healthcare.

“This opportunity for RCH Allied Health and Nursing staff is unique and enables us to support our staff to ensure the best, evidence based care for RCH patients. Through this generous funding, we can support our staff to learn, develop and deliver excellent care.”

– Bernadette O’Connor, Director of Royal Children’s Hospital Allied Health
nurses

Advancing Allied Health
Through Good Friday Appeal support, 180 AHPs have pursued professional development through local and national training courses, seminars and conferences. A number of these AHPs have presented papers on great care and innovation in their work on behalf of the hospital.
The learning acquired at these events is also benefitting other staff members. Attendees are sharing their insights through their departmental continuing education programs and staff education committees.

Nurturing nursing education
It’s paramount for nurses to grow their knowledge and skills to improve clinical practice outcomes for RCH children. Thanks to Victorian support for the Good Friday Appeal, 63 nurses have received the funding necessary to complete their post graduate qualification in the past year.
Many of these nurses have gone on to make significant contributions that have advanced the quality and safety of care provided at the hospital. This has occurred through investigating and leading practice change, bringing increased expertise to teams and taking on leadership positions.

Posted December 2016

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Enhancing quality and safety in health through simulation based education

Thanks to support from the Good Friday Appeal, The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) will continue to provide staff education through training by simulation.

Using state of the art medical technology, the RCH Simulation Team creates rare, high risk and critical patient events, as well as common clinical situations, to practise teamwork, communication, and technical skills. The Simulation Program gives staff the opportunity to receive feedback on their communication skills through simulated scenarios using trained actors.

The program aims to enhance clinical skills, decision making, communication and teamwork among staff, ultimately leading to better patient care in all situations staff may be faced with, including critical and everyday situations.

It doesn’t just benefit RCH staff and patients – healthcare professionals from across Victoria, Australia and even internationally are able to access training through the program. Over 18,000 participants have participated in training through the program since 2015.

By exposing teams to acute, but rare patient events in a safe environment, the program is improving clinical decision making, enhancing communication skills, and furthering great patient and family care in the most critical situations.

With staff from multiple departments working closely to deliver great care, it’s important that everyone is clear on how teams work together to deliver the best patient outcomes. Replicating critical patient care scenarios gives staff the opportunity to gauge how they react in difficult situations and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team.

“The strength of our Simulation Program is our ability to recreate rare events, to bring them to life and let people fully experience them,” says Associate Professor Meredith Allen, Director of Medical Education. “Staff become immersed in the process, and are able to enhance their skills and reinforce their clinical response.”

To ensure the simulation experience is realistic, the Good Friday Appeal has supported the purchase of high-tech mannequins that imitate human responses.

Able to breathe, cry, talk, seize and bleed, these mannequins also mimic heart and lung sounds. Each mannequin is controlled by a Simulation Technologist, who ensures that they react appropriately to each simulation, reinforcing critical skills and making each simulation as authentic as possible.

“It’s difficult to comprehend just how isolated you might feel in critical situations until you experience them firsthand,” says Jenni Sokol, Clinical Lead for Simulation. “Education helps, by training teams to work together efficiently and mitigating human error.”

RCH Medical staff train on childlike simulators that mimic emergency situations on the wards like a cardiac arrest. Nursing staff Matthew Stockton and Ella Scott ‘resuscitate’ a patient.

The simulation program also offers staff the opportunity to get feedback on their communication skills through the use of highly trained actors. Scenarios challenging our staff to deliver the most difficult news have been created from real events and are offered back as training opportunities. The actors are highly trained to provide feedback that helps participants navigate through some of the most challenging parts of being a health professional.

Though challenging, the realism of simulations is what makes them an effective way to train staff. Participants experience the same emotions and responses they would in a genuine high-pressure situation, and this makes a lasting impression. There is evidence that staff retain more knowledge and behavioural skills through simulation-based education than through book learning and lectures.

“To work together efficiently as teams and deliver the best patient care, we need to break down the silos we’ve traditionally trained in and focus on enhancing our skills collaboratively,” says Jenni. “The aim for the program has always been to turn groups of experts into expert teams and we’re making great progress in achieving that.”

Posted December 2016

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