Ultra machine could save children’s lives

By Ivy Jensen

COHUNA District Hospital (CDH) will receive a $37,000 portable ultrasound machine to help save children’s lives thanks to the Humpty Dumpty Foundation.

The children’s charity foundation held its inaugural Victorian Wine Dinner in Melbourne on Thursday night, where Dr Peter Barker was invited to speak on behalf of Victorian hospitals and, more specifically, Cohuna hospital, its needs and garnering support for the ultrasound system.

‘‘It will be used for point of care emergency management,’’ Dr Barker said.

The machine has multiple uses, including intravenous drip siting, assessment of acute trauma in children, fractures, screening heart function and brain imaging of neonates.

‘‘This special piece of equipment puts us in the same league as the big regional hospitals in our technology offering,’’ he said.

‘‘We will be able to videolink to the city or retrieval team ... moving us into the 21st century.’’

The foundation allows hospital and health services staff to buy essential and often life-saving medical equipment in paediatric wards, neonatal units, maternity and emergency departments in more than 380 hospitals Australia-wide.

Cohuna chief executive Ben Haw said health services identified equipment it needed and requested the foundation to endorse it before donors were sought to buy the equipment.

‘‘Items of equipment were listed on the night that we identified and CDH was fortunate to be advised through the evening that donors had elected to support us with equipment purchases, the main item being a state-of-the-art portable ultrasound system that will enable rapid assessment and investigation at the bedside, to help clinicians diagnose and assess conditions and make local treatment decisions regarding further care,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a welcome addition to the capacity of the hospital to support clinical practice and care in time-sensitive situations.’’

During the event, Dr Barker was honoured for his contribution to Cohuna, with former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns calling him a hero and the head of the Royal Children’s Hospital describing him as ‘‘one of the top guns in a select small group for regional Australia emergency health’’.

‘‘It’s very humbling,’’ Dr Barker said.

‘‘But I’m part of a team who do an excellent job. Without everyone doing what they do, these things wouldn’t happen.’’

Dr Barker has been an invaluable asset to the Cohuna district, working as a procedural doctor for more than 30 years, splitting his time between the Cohuna clinic and the hospital.

He has been an active member of the community since, in 2014 campaigning against the closure of the pathology laboratory that serviced three hospitals and clinics in the area, as well as the hospital’s maternity unit last year.