Yesterday the team received a portable anesthesia machine from New Zealand-based specialist anaesthetist, Doctor Ted Hughes, to boost their service to the people of the Cook Islands.
In presenting the gift, Dr Hughes said he met Rarotonga hospital anaesthetist Dr Teokotai Maea at the World Congress of Anesthesiologists Conference 2016 in Hong Kong where the machine was first unveiled.
“What happened on that day was that the two people that won the prize for the best new piece of innovative anesthesia equipment said that they will give it to Rarotonga hospital,” Dr Hughes, whose mother hails from Atiu, said.
“What is special about the machine is that you can put it in a suitcase and take it anywhere. If you got someone in northern group who is too sick to come down to Rarotonga, a team can fly out from here and surgeons can give the surgical procedure or operation to fix the person and the anaesthetist can give the anesthetic safely using this machine.
“It is really a very similar way to what you can do in Rarotonga but you can’t take a full anaesthetic machine in a small plane.”
Dr Hughes said the machine was the original prototype and it has gone into production. He added that a number of hospitals in Christchurch used similar machines.
“It’s actually been donated by Mr Barry Bolton who is a very good friend of the two inventors, John Hyndman and Ivan Batistich.”
Dr Maea thanked Dr Hughes for organising the donation of the machine and for his continued support to Rarotonga hospital.
“To ensure safe and successful surgery, there is always a need for safe anesthesia and to ensure that we need proper equipment, drugs and skills. We are fortunate today we have something like this (machine) in our department,” he said.
Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman also thanked Dr Hughes for his contribution to the Cook Islands health.
Dr Hughes mentioned the work done by the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetist who have developed a Cook Islands aid programme to improve services in this country, particularly involving anesthesia equipment and the hospital’s high dependency and intensive care units.
“I have been astonished how well Rarotonga hospital has been able to develop its services in this area,” he said.
“When you are 4000km away from New Zealand, you have to have your own freestanding hospital and this hospital is absolutely fantastic.
“I don’t think people always realise how good it is and the level of ICU has gone from strength to strength.
“There are a lot of very sick patients being looked after that formerly would have passed.”