Health Minister Chris Fearne has pledged to completely overhaul and redesign Mater Dei’s paediatric accident and emergency department after the original area was taken up by COVID-19 patients.
“With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the A&E department had to be reconfigured to fulfil the new requirements,” a spokesperson for Fearne told Lovin Malta. “Currently, the paediatric Emergency is being used as a COVID-19 area/first encounter area.”
“Given the new reality, a complete overhaul and redesign of the department is going to take place. A new paediatric emergency department is included in these plans.”
The paediatric A&E department was launched back in 2015, with Fearne stating it will help reduce the pressure of the main A&E department.
Designed to be extremely child-friendly, the walls are adorned with designs, including murals of Disney cartoon characters and handprints of doctors and nurses.
However, right after the pandemic hit Malta in March 2020, the department was transformed into a first-encounter area for COVID-19 patients, preventing them from congregating with other patients.
Meanwhile, the paediatric A&E department was shifted to a new makeshift ward near the regular A&E, which unlike the original department doesn’t have a waiting area.
Sources have told Lovin Malta of regular chaos outside this new paediatric department, with sick children and their parents waiting in the corridor outside the new department and staff telling them to make way for patients being wheeled to emergency.
Discussion on the new paediatric ward recently erupted on a popular Facebook forum, with a mother expressing her dismay at the way she was treated.
“While we were waiting, the security guards came five times to tell me to stand up and move to another corridor so that COVID-19 patients can pass through. “I could hardly believe it – COVID-19 patients passing through the corridor of the paediatric emergency ward.”
Now, around a year and a half since the pandemic forced Mater Dei into some logistical changes, it seems the children’s emergency ward is ready for a new chapter.
Cover photo: Chris Fearne launching the paediatric A&E Department in 2015
Have you had experience dealing with the new makeshift paediatric A&E ward in recent months?