Starship theatre staff are glad of the improvements in the first of their refurbished operating rooms - especially the new sound system.
"People enjoy the room and they love the stereo," said operating rooms manager Prue Hames.
The sound system is built in, instead of the standalone stereos in the other theatres. While it may not seem an important part of surgery, Mrs Hames said music in operating theatres helped calm patients while they were awake.
The Herald yesterday looked into the upgraded operating room number one (OR1) which was back in use last week after a refit that began in September. Herald readers, through the paper's Help Our Kids campaign with the Starship Foundation, have donated more than $200,000 to buy high-tech equipment for the theatres.
Four of Starship's six theatres are being refurbished and a new, seventh theatre is being built. This is part of a wider upgrade of the theatres suite. The Auckland District Health Board project will cost around $9 million, of which the foundation has pledged to contribute $3.1 million.
Some of the new equipment in OR1 is slightly less specialised than will go into the other theatres as the aim is mostly to reserve it for comparatively minor procedures such as inserting catheters into patients' veins and to cease doing big operations there.
OR1's new kit includes two LED lighting sets, a 42in wall-mounted screen and 26in screen hung from the ceiling for the surgeon. It will share, with the new theatre, a "core" computer system that manages x-ray, scan and surgical images.
Mrs Hames said the 26in screen could be moved to the best place for the surgeon to see it.
Some of the room's clutter has gone: some previously external cables have been put into the walls, two of the four doorways have been removed and some ledges have gone. The streamlining makes moving around safer and improves infection control by removing places where dust can gather.
A blue light is mounted above the main entrance to warn those outside, when it is switched on, that a laser is being used. The double doors have internal shutters that can be swung over their windows to avoid the risk of laser eye damage to people watching from outside.
The clinical director of anaesthesia and operating rooms at Starship, Dr Niall Wilton, said the next milestone would be the completion of the new theatre next month. Then the project's three remaining theatres would be refurbished one by one, with the last completed by mid-2015.
• Two LED lighting sets, total cost $38,250
• One 26in screen, $6800
• One 42in screen, $3900
Tricky operation saved Cohen's life
Cohen Champion had a head and neck tumour.
More than 30 Starship hospital staff crowded into the operating theatre when Cohen Champion was born by a special type of caesarean surgery.
Now aged 3, the Hamilton boy had to be delivered at the national children's hospital in Auckland because he had been diagnosed during pregnancy as having a non-cancerous head and neck tumour that would have prevented him from breathing without medical intervention.
The tumour had displaced his airway, oesophagus and jawbone and pressed up into his brain.
"Starship saved Cohen's life at birth," says his mother, Vera.
Cohen was the second baby born at Starship. Blake Mouat, whose story featured in the Herald last month, was the first and he, too, had a head tumour.
Mrs Champion says Cohen was partially delivered through the caesarean section opening, but remained attached by the umbilical cord to the placenta until the surgeon had inserted a nasal breathing tube.
Aged 2 weeks, Cohen had a tracheotomy breathing tube placed in his neck and a week later had an eight-hour operation to remove the tumour, which was about 60 per cent of the size of his head. His left cheekbone had to be removed and was later replaced.
The breathing tube was removed at 6 weeks old and he went home at 7 weeks.
Mrs Champion says Cohen is now "doing really well", but he has had some long-term effects from the operation.
"When they removed the tumour they had to stretch everything. They damaged the main facial nerve on the left side of his face."
This caused feeding difficulties when he was a baby, but his weight gain caught up with the norm by the age of 6 months. He has grommets for hearing difficulties, but his speech is improving.
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