FIGHTING acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is scary, particularly if you’re only four and hate being “hooked up to the machine” for hours at a time.
But like thousands of other Gold Coasters, Scout Pedersen is continuing to undergo intensive chemotherapy during the coronavirus pandemic as well as having blood tests every one-to-two weeks. Her cancer treatment makes her immunocompromised and particularly susceptible to contracting coronavirus, so her family is quarantining at home to protect her.
Crucially, she’s now benefiting from a Gold Coast Health initiative that increases the scope of care the Children’s Hospital in the Home (CHITH) service provides during the pandemic.
This means instead of the youngster having to visit the Gold Coast University Hospital for blood tests, clinical nurse Michelle Noyes comes to her house and takes blood from her port line.
“Being an advanced practice nurse allows me to review children at home and liaise with their
paediatrician if admission to hospital is required,” she said.
“The pandemic has given us the opportunity to evaluate some of our practices and see what we can do to reduce presentations and lower our patients’ exposure to potential infections.
“As a result we have been able to offer numerous home visits to perform blood tests and central line care for children aged between three and 17 years old in the last few weeks.”
Mrs Pedersen said reducing her daughter’s exposure to infection while she had no protection against common bugs was crucial, but the psychological benefits were also clear.
“Scout’s treatment is shared between Gold Coast Health and the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, and she has endured many admissions over the past four months, so the more care we can do at home the better,” Noelle said.
And being able to stay at home gives some comfort to Scout who says she doesn’t like the hospital because it “only has needles and I have to stay in the beds”.
Paediatric senior staff specialist Dr Jennifer Deacon said some specific changes to practice were helping to prevent not just hospital trips, but hospital stays.
“We’ve doubled the bed days saved since February. Last month we avoided 133 bed days, with 18 children receiving their hospital care at home,” Dr Deacon said.
“From administering intravenous steroids and antibiotics to overnight oximetry in a child’s own bed, we’re learning a lot about how we can advance the care of our patients in their homes at this time, and we are seeing some great benefits in the process.”
Last year, CHITH delivered care to 126 children, saving 972 bed days on the children’s ward. GCUH provides shared oncology care with the Queensland Children’s Hospital, for Gold Coast children needing treatment for leukaemia and cancer.
Originally published as Boost for 4yo cancer battler who ‘doesn’t like needles’