Family gives back to protect patients and healthcare workers during the pandemic

In the critical moments when a patient can no longer breathe on their own, healthcare staff insert a tube through the mouth into the airway so they can be placed on a ventilator. The process, known as intubation, uses a laryngoscope which inadvertently disperses droplets onto the treating clinician and increases their risk of contamination, while they are administering life-saving care.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Rae and Peter Gunn Family Foundation, The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) is home to a new video laryngoscope which will not only benefit the sickest patients needing breathing assistance, but also protect our vital healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the new video laryngoscope, staff can be positioned further back from a patient’s mouth, providing additional safety measures to protect them from potentially contracting COVID-19.

When the Gunn family learned that the RCH only had one video laryngoscope and were in need of more during this critical time, they did not hesitate to come forward and help.

“We wanted to do our part not only to protect front-line healthcare workers during this pandemic but to also have a lasting impact at the RCH as the video laryngoscopes are beneficial to many areas of care, not just for COVID-19 cases,” said Jackie Haintz, the Gunn’s youngest daughter and head of the Rae and Peter Gunn Family Foundation.

Richard and Peter Gunn. Photo: supplied.

The Gunn family are no strangers to the RCH. Rae and Peter’s son, Richard, was born three months premature and they were told he had only a one percent chance of survival. Against the odds, Richard fought hard and lived thanks to the attentive care of clinicians at the RCH. Jackie spent much of her childhood visiting her older brother in hospital while he continued to suffer from vascular and gastrointestinal issues.

“Although Richard spent so much time in and out of hospital, my parents felt fortunate for the great care he was receiving. They weren’t well off but saw many families who were in worse positions, many who lived rurally and had to leave their sick children in hospital to work and come back weeks later. When my parents were financially secure, they had a strong desire to give back and support the hospital, medical research and the community,” said Jackie.

Jackie and Mike Haintz. Photo: supplied.

Dr Tom Rozen, Clinical Deputy Director of the General Intensive Care Unit praised the new equipment and its immediate impact.

“We have already used it a number of times for both videolaryngoscopy and bronchoscopy. It is an important addition to our resources to manage our sickest and most challenging cases, and it will be a great step forward when video laryngoscopes can be universally available in all our clinical areas,” said Tom.

The RCH Foundation is indebted to the Rae and Peter Gunn Family Foundation for their incredible support and generosity in a time of great uncertainty and need. The RCH requires further video laryngoscopes and welcomes your interest. Please contact Donna Aranyi, Philanthropy Executive at [email protected] or 03 9345 4510 for further information.​