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New team helps Ethan get home quicker

Posted on Thursday 21st April 2016
Megan Rigby and son Ethan Rigby

Megan Rigby and son Ethan

Children with short-term illnesses like tonsillitis can now get expert nursing care at home rather than in hospital thanks to the Evelina London Children's Hospital @home team.

Five-year-old Ethan Rigby from Tulse Hill is one of the first youngsters to benefit from the new service.

The service, which launched in February, runs from 8am to 10pm seven days a week. It helps children get home from hospital quicker and in some cases means they don’t have to come into hospital at all. The team will also help parents become more confident in looking after their children when they are sick.

Ethan’s mum, Megan Rigby, says: “Ethan was diagnosed with eczema when he was six-weeks-old. His eczema was excruciating and at nine-months-old we found out that he is allergic to lots of things including eggs, milk, nuts, fish, cats, soya and grass.

“His skin gets very itchy so he’ll bite it and rub it against rough surfaces, like the edge of the table or carpet, to scratch it. When the skin breaks, it makes Ethan prone to infections.

“One Sunday in February, Ethan began complaining that his left hand was hurting so I took him to A&E. We were sent home with antibiotics. The next day the school called to say Ethan couldn’t hold a pen and, when things worsened, I took him back to hospital.”
It turned out that Ethan had cellulitis, a skin infection that can lead to septicaemia, a potentially life-threatening blood infection. He was given antibiotics through an intravenous drip and stayed in hospital for two days.

Megan says: “Then the doctors said there were other options. Ethan could stay in hospital or be helped to get better by the @home team.  Evelina London is not just round the corner for me and I knew it would be better for Ethan to have his things around him and still be able to go to school.

“The @home team came out to check his progress and make sure his hand was healing properly. I was given lots of help and advice including a refresher course on using a special tape with steroids. It helps the skin to heal when the eczema gets very bad.

“I think this is a brilliant service which saves a lot of time, money and stress and it feels personalised to you. Ethan would have been taking up a hospital bed which could have been used by a child who really needed it. Now I have the @home team’s telephone number and I know I can call them anytime for advice.”

Sue Donald, the matron who runs the Evelina London Children's Hospital @home team, says: “Parents often feel anxious about caring for their child at home after they are discharged from hospital.

“Our experienced nurses provide support, carry out observations and give antibiotics intravenously. We make sure children are eating properly and monitor their progress so they don’t have to come back to hospital. We‘re delighted to have seen more than 80 children since the team launched in February.”
The service is being piloted for 18 months and is available to children living in or registered with a GP in Lambeth and Southwark. Currently referrals are made by the Trust’s hospital consultants.
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