PARENTS and their children will be able to breathe easier after new equipment was donated to the East Grampians Health Service.
The Humpty Dumpty Foundation has donated an Airvo humidifier to the Urgent Care Centre and a Breath of Life package to the Midwifery Unit.
The foundation provides essential paediatric medical equipment to hospitals across Australia.
The Airvo humidifier will be used to treat young children experiencing breathing difficulties caused by issues such as croup and bronchitis.
It provides children with high-power warmed and humidified oxygen.
Acute services manager Tracey Walters said the equipment will help with the increase in children presenting with respiratory issues over the winter.
"It's the middle of winter and we get a lot of children in with coughs and colds," she said.
The Urgent Care Centre sees about 600 children come through it each year and Ms Walters said the equipment would enable the hospital staff to start advanced treatment earlier.
"The Airvo can be used to treat children with various respiratory conditions, especially if we are waiting for an ambulance to transfer them to a bigger facility," she said.
"It can be used to treat conditions such as croup, asthma and bronchitis. If these cases are mild we can keep them here and treat them but if they are more worrying we send them to a bigger centre.
"As we cannot predict the transfer times - as ambulances are very busy and children can often be waiting in our department for hours - having the Airvo means we can start more advanced treatment earlier."
Ms Walters said the Airvo can also be used on adults and the elderly with respiratory conditions.
"We have found it very useful for several patients on the ward as well as patients presenting to the Urgent Care Centre," she said.
The Breath of Life package donated to the Midwifery Unit included a Neopuff and a humidifier.
A Neopuff is used in the resuscitation of newborns when they don't breath on their own in the first minutes following birth, while the humidifier is used if a baby has to be given airway therapy for an extended period of time.
"Often when a baby is very unwell and needs transferring to a bigger centre the Neopuff can be used for several hours to ensure a baby receives the oxygen requirements needed for life," Ms Walters said.
"The humidifier makes the oxygen moist for the newborn's system so that their airways do not dry out.
"We had one Neopuff in the hospital previously, but now when we have two women in labour or one in the theatre having a caesarean section, the other will be used on the ward for women birthing in the birth suite. This will ensure safer care for newborn babies."
Ms Walters also had some advice for parents of sick children unsure of what to do.
"You should see a doctor if your child is under six months and has signs and symptoms of croup, bronchiolitis, asthma and whooping cough," she said.
"The Royal Children's Hospital also has some great health information fact sheets online."
Ms Walters said parents should also see a doctor if their child's breastbone or the skin between their ribs sucks in when they inhale; the child has stridor, or noisy breathing, when at rest; or the child is very distressed or their symptoms are getting worse.
"It's also hard for parent's to tell the difference between the common types of coughs," Ms Walters said.
"The most common cough is a viral induced cough and is due to upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses. It is usually accompanied by a runny or blocked nose and a cough. Antiobitics are usually not required and don't help.
"Bronchiolitis, asthma, croup, whooping cough and pneumonia are other conditions that can cause a cough. It is very important to make sure your children and yourself - especially if pregnant - have had a whooping cough vaccine.
"You should call an ambulance immediately if your child is struggling to breathe; your child looks very sick and becomes pale and drowsy; your child's lips are pale blue in colour; your child starts to drool or can't swallow."
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