Her Majesty the Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck inaugurated the extended Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) yesterday.

Her Majesty had donated Nu 6 million (M) in March last year, to purchase two sets of ICU equipment which include an ICU bed, ICU CP monitor, ventilator, syringe pump, infusion pump, suction pump, privacy curtain, and bair hugger for PICU.

Following the inauguration, Her Majesty also donated Nu 1M to the hospital to provide palliative care for cancer patients, yesterday.

PICU was started at the national referral hospital in September 2012 as a four-bed ward. In 2014, another bed was added.

Health officials said there was a need to separate the PICU from the pediatric ward so that proper quality care could be given to patients.

With the two sets of ICU equipment, the PICU at JDWNRH now has seven beds.

President of JDWNRH, Lhab Dorji, said the two additional beds would enhance the capacity of the hospital to provide ICU care to more children.

He said that if more than five children needed to be admitted in the PICU, the hospital is not able to do so because of limited beds and has to admit in the Pediatric ward.

In ICU, he said that the chances of recovery are higher because intervention and medication are high. 

“In the ward, there is a risk of increased mortality,” he said.

He also pointed out that there is a shortage of human resources in the hospital including the PICU. In ICUs, the nurse to bed ratio should be 1:1 and because of the shortage, one nurse has to look after more than one bed (patient) and this increases the risk of patients getting infections.

When it comes to critically ill patients, he said that having enough staff is crucial.

“Normally in ICUs, most of infections occur through handling by the nurses. So, if one nurse only handles one bed then there is less risk of transmitting infection,” he said. “If a nurse has to attend to more than one patient then that is where the infection is spread.”

For the nurse to bed ratio to be 1:1, staff requirement at the PICU with seven beds is 27 nurses. Currently, the PICU is short of nine nurses since they have to do three shifts a day.

He said that the shortage is not only in JDWNRH. “There is a shortage of human resources in all health institutions.” He said they are hopeful that with full autonomy probably, the hospital would be able to set its own standards and recruit people according to its need. “Then we might be able to address the shortage issue.”

Dechen Tshomo